Review: ‘Copacabana’

Martin Rejtman takes a break from his droll contempo comedies and applies his sharp eye to the docu form with "Copacabana," a largely non-verbal film about Bolivian emigres living in one of Buenos Aires' poorest districts.

Martin Rejtman takes a break from his droll contempo comedies and applies his sharp eye to the docu form with “Copacabana,” a largely non-verbal film about Bolivian emigres living in one of Buenos Aires’ poorest districts. Expectedly for Rejtman watchers, pic (helmer’s first in HD) is exquisitely composed and paced, but what surprises is work’s strong ethnographic qualities — docu records Bolivian folkloric dance performed for the annual Virgin of Copacabana celebration. With a prestigious fest and awards tally, doc’s content, under-hour playing time and Rejtman’s rep makes it a natural for tube play worldwide.

Rejtman and editor Martin Mainoli have unconventionally structured things in reverse — from the end of the yearly Copacabana parade, to rehearsals, and, finally, to the arrival of a new group of immigrants crossing the Bolivian border into Argentina. Pic, shorn of any crutches like graphics or narration, demands observant viewers who will notice that the event’s lavish, inventive costumes, plus involved dance moves, are the results of months of preparation in available spaces in the dirt-poor neighborhood. Glimpses of everyday life and a man flipping nostalgically through photo albums cleverly punctuate doc.

Copacabana

Argentina

Production

A Ruda Cine/Ciudad Abierta production. (International sales: Ruda Cine, Buenos Aires.) Produced by Martin Rejtman. Executive producer, Rosa Martinez Rivero. Directed by Martin Rejtman.

Crew

Camera (color, HD video), Diego Poleri; editor, Martin Mainoli. Reviewed at Mexico City Film Festival, Feb. 27, 2007. (Also in Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Rotterdam film festivals.) Running time: 54 MIN.
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