Argentine Cinema Goes Independent

By Tracey Chandler


Buenos Aires is a wonderful city in which to enjoy independent Latin American film. It’s also a great city in which to take part in projects of a creative nature. Connecting Worlds has lots of contacts and is always ready and willing to help you find a project to suit your needs.

One of the main reasons why Buenos Aires has such a thriving independent film industry, relates directly to the financial and social support invested in the sector by the Argentine government and its national institute, the INCAA (Argentina’s National Institute for Film and Visual Arts).

The INCAA and a government interested in promoting independent cinema

According to law 17.741 (more commonly known as the law of cinema), one of the responsibilities of the INCAA is to strengthen and regulate cinematic activities across the whole of Argentina. The INCAA is held accountable by both Argentina’s Ministry of Culture and Media Communication, and the President of Argentina — Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (at the time of writing).

The internal infrastructure of the INCAA includes both a president and vice-president, a federal assembly, and an advisory council. It manages public funds which are designated for the development of cinematographic projects in Argentina. This means that all of its funds are subsidised by the Argentine government, and are therefore subject to evaluation on a case by case basis.

When comparing the provision of independent film in Buenos Aires and across Argentina with that of other Latin American countries, the work of the INCAA mustn’t go by without praise. The INCAA subsidises a never-ending line of independent film projects, each one different to the next. This ensures that there’s a wide variety of independent film for the Argentine public to enjoy every year — from drama, to comedy, to suspense.

It’s also incredible to see that institutions which depend on the funding of the Ministry of Culture actually do an effective job in the distribution of independent film across the country and throughout the year. Many of the film festivals organised across Argentina are financially supported by the INCAA and, indirectly, by the Ministry of Culture. It’s one of the positive aspects of public spending that the Argentine government can lay claim to.

The best of the best

Founded in 1912, The Gaumont is one of the best cinemas in Buenos Aires (and one of the cheapest) for independent, Argentine film. It’s located on Avenida Rivadavia, in Plaza Congreso, and takes its name from the famous, Leon Gaumont — a French inventor and industrialist, who was also a pioneer for the cinematic industry.

The beauty of The Gaumont lies not only in its central location within Buenos Aires — making it easily accessible via various forms of transport — but it’s also the city’s cheapest independent cinema. At the time of writing, regular tickets cost just $8 Argentine pesos, and discounted tickets are available all day, every day, to students and the retired. It’s also open all year round.

The Gaumont, like many other independent cinemas in Buenos Aires, underwent hefty reconstruction work in 1995. Its largest auditorium was divided into three smaller ones in order to be able to compete with the huge, foreign cinema chains, and to provide the cinema-goer with more variety.

Further changes occurred in 2003 when The Gaumont was rented out by the INCAA. The idea was to gradually build a network of independent cinemas across the entire country (beginning first with The Gaumont) so that more of Argentina’s films could be projected beyond the capital and could reach more of the country’s population.

However, by April of 2012, the financial pressure was on. The Gaumont wanted to stop renting the cinema to the INCAA, but to instead sell it as part of an Argentine estate agents’ building project. Thanks to important and unmatchable intervention from the Argentine government, this idea never came to pass. In 2013, the INCAA actually bought the cinema and closed it down for two months so that it could completely remodel the interior of the building.

More independent cinemas in Buenos Aires

In addition to The Gaumont, there are other cinemas in which you can access a wide variety of independent Argentine movies in and around Buenos Aires. The Arteplex is an excellent second choice.

The Arteplex cinema (or ArteMultiplex) first began in Buenos Aires under the guise of Cine Savoy — an antique cinema in the heart of Belgrano on Avenida Cabildo. Upon changing names from Cine Savoy to Arteplex, the space became renowned in Argentina for the quality of the films it showed. It was a cinema which aimed to remind its local public that a different kind of film — independent, national film — was available.

Sadly, as is the case with most things in the 21st century, when a project fails to make money — even if just needing to make enough money to keep itself going — it’s forced to close. This was the case for the Arteplex for about a year.

Fortunately, and largely due to the huge efforts of the local, cinematographic community in Buenos Aires — regular frequenters of the Arteplex in particular — the large, chain cinema company, Multiplex, decided to buy the Arteplex and save it from permanent closure. Today, the cinema is known as ArteMultiplex and, under the terms of the agreement, its auditoriums are still reserved for independent, quality film — including the films shown during the BAFICI (Buenos Aires’ International Festival of Independent Film).

Buenos Aires’ major independent film festival

Since is was first founded in 1999, BAFICI has been responsible for bringing avant-garde, cutting-edge independent films to the porteño (people of Buenos Aires) public. It has a reputation for selecting and supporting quality independent film. A large number of Argentine and Latin American films shown as part of the BAFICI festival are world premiers upon arrival.

For the unmatchable work BAFICI has achieved to date, the festival has earned itself a reputation for being the most important, most prestigious, and most famous independent film festival in Latin America. It takes place during the month of April every year in Buenos Aires, and year on year the number of people who both watch and participate in the program increases. Last year, more than 200,000 people were involved.



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