Saturday, June 4, 2016

Upcoming US premieres for Carlos Saura's "Argentina"

Fans of Spanish director Carlos Saura's series of flamenco-related films should also enjoy Argentina (2015), a soulful love note to the music and dance of that nation. Shot in Buenos Aires, the sensuous documentary bears family resemblance to Saura's Flamenco Flamenco (2010) in its minimalistic yet dramatic setting, chiarascuro lighting and sunset coloration, intriguingly voyeuristic camera work, close-ups of expressive, lived-in faces and diverse array of excellent performers.

The 85-minute film samples everything from indigenous folk music to extraordinary ballads with an existential or political edge. There are songs about friendship and generosity, songs about the pain we humans cause our earth. "The only thing more important than God," one lyric tells us, "is that no one should spit blood so that another can live better."

The dancing follows a similar mixture--regional social dances, carnival dancing, contemporary choreography. It's all Argentina.

I was moved by so much in this film but especially the photo montage honoring the late, great singer Mercedes Sosa--a progressive artist known as "the voice of the voiceless"--who Saura positions as inspiration to a classroom of youngsters charmingly attentive to her "Todo cambia" ("Everything Changes"). Everything, she tells us, will change--except for the love she holds for her land and its people.

Eighty-five minutes can only give us a taste but, in that short time, Saura does his best to help us understand what Sosa loved with all her heart.

See the trailer here, and the US premiere screenings at New York's Lincoln Plaza Cinema (June 17) and LA's Laemmle Royal (July 1), presented by First Run Features.

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