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Argentina on the Rise – Nicolás Torchinsky

As Argentina’s INCAA steps up its support for documentary development, Torchinsky presents a clear-headed vision of Argentina’s last gaucho cowboys

A Profile of Argentine Director Nicolás
Nicolas Torchinsky

BUENOS AIRES — “Please use 1080P and listen to the film with headphones,” Torchinsky advises, about catching his debut feature, “The Centaur’s Nostalgia,” on a computer. He’s right on. Screening in Mar del Plata’s Argentine Competition, after world premiering at Switzerland’s Visions du Réel, his docu-feature’s achievement is both sensorial and conceptual, a difficult double. The portrait of an aged couple, members of Argentina’s dying guacho breed, it captures husband and wife Juan and Alba as they go about their daily routine, preparing an open hearth fire, getting up at the crack of dawn, boiling water for mate, knitting. Set in Tucuman scrub-desert in Argentina’s far north, and sometimes shot in the dark or ink-black night, the soundtrack often takes central stage, a meticulous mix of goats’ bayful bleats, a horse champing, billowing desert wind, night owls, tireless crickets and grasshoppers. Some images are extraordinary: the strong clarity of stars in the southern night sky, a vision not seen in cities. But, though Torchinsky is from Buenos Aires, the film never buys into a big city romanticization of the gaucho life. In the entirety of the film, Alba and Juan do not exchange one word. “He’d take off for four-to-five months at a go,” leaving her to beg food from neighbors, Alba recalls. A buzzed-up title at Mar del Plata, which Torchinsky, now making “El Polvo,” a docu-feature about identity with family constructs, will now shop at Ventana Sur and to further festivals.

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Nicolas Torchinsky