Joining a growing number of films that have been inspired by terrorist tragedy, in this case the July 18, 1994, bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, “18-J” comprises 10 shorts of roughly 10 minutes each from 10 Argentine helmers, including international names like Daniel Burman, Alberto Lecchi and Carlos Sorin. This worthy and affecting homage features styles from abstract to hard-hitting. Political fest sidebars are the pic’s likeliest destination, along with arthouses in territories with a cultural interest in the tragedy.
Pic opens with Adrian Caetano’s overly aesthetic “86,” an abstract item showing the effects of a bomb on objects — flowers, books, a birthday cake — as recalled by a blinded man.
Daniel Burman’s (“Lost Embrace”) untitled piece explores the effects of the bomb on the neighborhood where it took place via personal testimony and images of desolation.
In Lucia Cedron’s domestic “Mitzvah,” an elderly couple, crotchety grandfather (Norman Erlich) and grandmother (Adriana Aizemberg), prepare for a bar mitzvah following a long-distance phone call with their daughter, who is going out with a Palestinian. This section, alone, bravely features moments of gentle humor.
Lecchi’s “The Call” is a terrifically evocative piece showing how even distant lives are affected. Set in a mountain pueblo a thousand miles from Buenos Aires, where a woman’s son has gone in search of work, pic understatedly portrays the rising tension as the mother (Silvia Gallegos) and her daughter Luna (Marina Vilte) wait for hours by the town’s only telephone for the potentially dreadful news from the capital.
Others include Alejandro Doria’s “Shame,” about the political cover-up following the bombing (the perpetrators have never been caught). Mauricio Wainrot’s “Tearful” features dancer Laura Cucchetti in an elegant, but somewhat portentous dance piece, while Adrian Suar’s “Surprise” punchily shows the arbitrariness of terrorism in selecting its victims.
Pic saves its best till last with Carlos Sorin’s (“Minimal Stories”) affecting “Memory,” which simply shows headshots of the victims to the accompaniment of a Handel aria. The final, heartbreaking image is of a 5-year-old.
As a byproduct, pic reps an often perceptive overview of Argentine life at several social levels. Though many of the dead were Jewish, most helmers have significantly emphasized the universality of the tragedy rather than focusing on Jewish victimization.
Tech levels are good to high.
An Aleph Producciones, Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, Cinema Digital, BD Cine, Cinetauro, Zarlek, Guacamole-El Puente, Pol-Ka, Patagonik, Kaos Cooperativa Cinematografica production. (International sales: Primer Plano Film Group, Buenos Aires.) Produced by Pablo Rovito, Fernando Sokolowicz, Diego Dubcovsky, Cecilia Bossi, Marcelo Pavan, Fernando. Executive producers, Guillermo Szelske, Luis Sartor, Noemi Fuhrer, Juan Vera, Jorge Rocca.
Directed by Adrian Caetano. Screen-play, Roberto Gispert. Camera (color), Julian Apezteguia; editor, Israel Adrian Caetano; music, Diego Grimblat; art director, Sebastian Roses.
Directed, written by Daniel Burman. Camera (color), Alejandro Giuliani; editor, Alejandro Brodersohn; music, Cesar Lerner; art director, Luciano Ripodas.
Directed by Lucia Cedron. Screenplay, Victoria Galardi. Camera (color), Jose Luis Garcia; editor, Rosario Suarez; music, Sebastian Escofet; art director, Aili Chen.
Directed by Alberto Lecchi. Screenplay, Santiago Giralt. Camera (color), Hugo Colace; editor, Alejandro Alem; art director, Carmen Cornejo.
Directed by Alejandro Doria. Screen-play, Aida Bortnik Ferreira, Doria. Camera (color), Willi Behnisch; editor, Sergio Zottola; art director, Margarita Jusid.
Directed by Mauricio Wainrot. Screen-play, Carlos Gallardo, Wainrot. Camera (color), Abel Penalba; editor, Marcela Saenz; art director, Carlos Gallardo.
THE DIVINE COMEDY
Directed, written by Juan Bautista Stagnaro. Camera (color), Andres Mazzon; editor, Alejandro Alem; art director, Patricia Pernia.
THE WRATH OF GOD
Directed by Marcelo Schapces. Screenplay, Paula Romero Levit, Pablo Fidalgo. Camera (color), Jose Guerra; editor, Miguel Schverdfinger; music, Maria Eva Albistur; art director, Rodolfo Pagliere.
Directed by Adrian Suar. Screenplay, Josefina Trotta, Sebastian Noejovich, Lucia Victoria Roux, Damian Fraticelli Maria Laura Meradi, Mariano Vera, Francisco Sanchez Azcarate. Camera (color), Miguel Abal; editor, Alejandro Alem, Alejandro Parisow; art director, Mariana Sourrouille.
Directed by Carlos Sorin. Camera (color), Hugo Colace; editors, Alejandro Alem, Alejandro Parisow.
Reviewed at Argencine Film Festival, Madrid, Oct. 5, 2005. Running time: 107 MIN.
With: Federico Barga, Nicolas Pablo Attadia, Sandra Seco, Francisco Pascual, Maria Carmen Diez.
With: Norman Erlich, Adriana Aizem-berg, Ana Celentano, Victor Hugo Morales, Marina Ferraro.
With: Silvia Gallegos, Marina Vilte, Huerto Rivadineira, Matias Araoz, Marisel Cruz, Gabriela Bertolone, Amalia Alancay, Serafin Llampa, Gustavo Araya.
With: Susu Pecoraro.
With: Laura Cucchetti, Elizabeth Rod-riguez, Leandro Tolosa, Ernesto Chacon Oribe.
THE DIVINE COMEDY
With: Silvina Bosco, Alfonso Burgos, Federico Canepa, Aldana Lelan, Maxi Zago, Martin Coman, Eric Miao, Marcelo Araujo.
THE WRATH OF GOD
With: Carmen Vallejo, Max Berliner, Silvia Kutica, Luis Luque, Manuel Salo-mon, Sebastian Micha, Manuel Martin, Luchano Ruiz.
With: Leo Bosio, Magela Zanotta, Ramiro Aguero, Eduardo Wigutow, Sara Solnik, Diego Gentile, Yago Ardel, Matias Cano, Clara Waksberg.