Sold by Paris-based MK2, “Argentina” has also punched pre-sales in Australia (Palace), Russia (Russian Report), Switzerland (Filmcoopi), Turkey (Filmarti), Bulgaria (Bulgaria Film Vision) and ex-Yugoslavia (MCF Megacom).
Popular song and dance, whether in fiction (“Carmen,” “Tango”) or docu-features (”Blood Wedding”), have yielded some of Carlos Saura’s most memorable movies. In the MK2-sold “Argentina,” which world premieres in Venice Days’ Special Events, the legendary Spanish director, the key figure in the 1960s’ Nuevo Cine Espanol, returns to the genre, showcasing via 20 choreographed tableaux its stunning musical heritage.
“I always had the urge to shoot Argentine music, especially for the wealth of its zambas and chacareras, what you call folklore,” Saura said.
To do so, he will bring his hallmark aesthetic arsenal to the table: Split and video screens, mirrors, silhouetted figures behind giant transparent backdrops, primary colors.
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Each song has a distinctive direction and contrasting performers. In “Bagala,” for example, a group beats drums, and sings snippets of an ancient song. “I am from San Carlos, free and my own master,” one line runs.
In a tribute to Mercedes Sosa, a b/w video of the great ‘60s Argentine protest singer unspools on the screen as a classroom of students sing, drum their fingers to the lyrics, a homage to Sosa’s impact on younger generations.
Other performances incorporate modern dance, others ancient instruments, such as wood on ropes which, when twirled, impact the floor with the sound akin to that of a flamenco dancer’s stamping.
“My desire is to create a cinematographic experience like no other,” Saura said.
“Argentina” is produced by Marcelo Schapces, Mariana Erjimovich and Alejandro Israel for Buenos Aires’ Barakacine, and co-produced by Madrid’s Zebra Productions’s Jose Velasco and Stephane Sorlat – renewing a longterm relationship with the Spanish-speaking world – at France’s Mondex & Cie. Executive producers are Alejandro Israel, Antonio Saura, Guy Amon and Jorge Rodriguez.
The film’s aesthetics combine a sense of the country’s rich heritage and seeming ancestral suffering. Many songs turn on exile, “La Felipe Varela,” a Zamba, sung with gusto by a couple, on a legendary gunman who leaves “dust and death” in his wake. 56 years after his debut, 1959’s “Los Golfos,” Saura has not lost his social conscience, nor his sense of the dynamics of dance.