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Argentina on the Rise: Paula Martel

Martel delivered a bold Mar del Plata pitch for a striking project from a young director

BUENOS AIRES — Few directors made a bolder presentation at Mar del Plata’s Film.Ar pitching sessions than Paula Martel, who pulled out a (mock) revolver on stage, to illustrate the film’s climax. That may come naturally for a performance artist and to Christoph Behl, the producer of Martel’s debut feature as a director and screenwriter, “First We Take Anillaco,” who learnt the art of pitching at Barcelona’s prestigious Pompeu Fabra U.

What’s attractive about Martel’s debut is that it cuts so many ways. “First We Take Anillaco” is set in December 2001, as Argentina plunged into dire economic chaos, and 18-year-old Amadeo, the son of Arab immigrants, living in Catamarca, northern Argentina, sees his father lose his job in the state’s orchestra and abandon the family. Convinced (quite rightly) that ex-Argentine president Carlos Menem neo-liberal policies are to blame, Amadeo, who dreams of becoming a hot-shot journalist, rounds up his friends with the madcap plan of interviewing Menem, who lives at his luxurious estate just a few miles away, and then shooting him dead.

Judd Apatow meets Oliver Stone or, as Martel puts it, “a dystopian fable, an ‘Inglorious Basterds’ of the underdeveloped world, “First We Take Anillaco” is also a revenge movie and cry of frustration from a disenfranchised still young Argentine generation whose protests can only take the form of political farce. Set up at Behl’s Buenos Aires-based Subterranea, it was one of the most memorable projects – and pitches – at this year’s Mar del Plata.

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