MAR DEL PLATA — Rosendo Ruíz, arguably the best-known of Córdoba’s movie directors, is teaming with two of the Argentine second city’s strongest producers, El Carro and Paola Suárez’s Germina Films, to make “Tunga” (Boom, Boom), inspired by a seminal event in the life of Argentine living music legend Juan Carlos “La Mona” Jiménez.
“Boom Boom” was pitched Thursday at the Mar del Plata Festival’s LoboLab Intl. Co-production Meeting by Ruíz, Suárez and María Inés Moyano at El Carro, which she co-founded with Ruíz in 2006. The clip of Rodríguez performing on stage in a dance hall singing to faithful fans proved one of the pitching session’s highlights.
Written by Ruíz, “Boom Boom” Ruiz’s fifth feature, returns the director to the Córdoba music scene of his breakout, 2011’s “De Caravana” (Clubbing), which won a brace of domestic awards in Argentina and helped bring down the flag on a modern Cordoba movie scene.
A film noir thriller set in 1969 in a Cordoba criminal underworld of nightclubs, dives, strip clubs, prostitution, drugs and on-the-take police – the ambience where Jimenez sang in his youth – “Boom Boom” draws on a seminal moment in Jiménez’s early career, as recounted to Ruíz by Jiménez when he was researching a short which became “Clubbing.”
In the movie, set in Córdoba in 1969, a young singer, Juan, is beginning to make a name for himself fronting a band which plays cuarteto, a Córdoba-based dance hall rhythm popular among Cordoba’s working classes which, from the video clip played by Ruiz at the Mar del Plata Festival, does not seem so distant from Dominican merengue.
Juan inadvertently witnesses the murder of a girl from a wealthy family and befriends Ricardo, the murdered girl’s working-class boyfriend. A chance accident leaves Juan in coma for weeks. He awakes to discover that Ricardo has been murdered and then framed as the girl’s killer. Outraged, he determines to dedicate his career to championing the poor and outcast in Cordoba.
Now a cuarteto icon, “La Mona” Jimenez helped popularize cuarteto outside its native Córdoba and, from the 1990s, among Argentina’s middle classes as many of its themes found a larger social resonance.
However much a unique Cordoba music phenomenon, deep-rooted in the city’s mindset, Ruiz has already witnessed the international appeal of “La Mona” Jiménez.
““When I hosted the premiere of ‘Clubbing’ in Toulouse, France, the recurring question of the French audience at its four screenings was: ‘Who is that long-haired singer? Is he a fictional character or is he real?’ Ruiz recalled.
He added: “When I told them that “La Mona” is a singer who’s been doing more than three weekly shows for over 40 years, with more than 9,000-person audiences at most of them, and is currently editing his 90th record, they just couldn’t believe it.”
Making “Boom Boom,” he will draw on the aesthetic of classic film noir directors such as Fritz Lang and France’s Jean-Pierre Melville, as well as more recent movies which twin a portrait of a music idol and film noir aesthetics such as Clint Eastwood’s “Bird,” Ruíz said.
Moyano and Suárez explained at the LoboLab pitching session that they aimed to make “Boom Boom” as a multilateral international co-production with Argentina as the lead partner covering some 60% of the budget. Some roles in the film could be played by foreigners. They aim to go into production in September/October 2018.
They can play off the universality of film noir,but all te more the international appeal of such a singular figure as Jiménez and a zeitgeist where protest against social exclusion and the abuse of authorities has moved towards the mainstream.