MY TRIP TO THE ARGENTINIAN LABOUR FILM FEST
May 31, 2017
I couple of weeks ago, I went to the Construir Cine film festival in Argentina as a guest of the festival and of the British Council.
As a guest I was to be a judge on the Construir Cine judging panel in the ‘feature documentary category’. The labour films covered work, working class life and in some cases were critiques of the capitalist system and its relation to workers. There were nine films in the feature doc category.
I had a press interview on the afternoon of my arrival with La Nación. La Nación is the second biggest selling paper in the country, it’s a conservative broadsheet that goes back more than 100 years. I was also interviewed by Tiempo Argentino, which is newer and more progressive. It is run by a workers’ cooperative. Articles were published the next day, which was good publicity for the festival. In one of the article (see below) I talked about the film competition and my favourite films. I talked broadly about the value of labour film festivals and labour themed films. I was keen to emphasis the importance of work to the human psyche, the value of work as soul food in a world too easy to accept technological change, and hastening automation. I touched on Brexit in relation to the film industry. The films of Kim Longinotto were also a key topic of conversation.
The judging panel met on the evening of my arrival. We all had dinner and deliberated over our choices. I was on the panel with Diego Lerer, the cinema programmer for Pingyao Film Festival, and Federico Lisica Chequeá of Cicloinconcluso. I enjoyed being on the panel and was pleased to recognise that we all had very divergent opinions. In reverse order for the doc feature category, we chose Arreos about the dying tradition of goat herders in Argentina which explored man’s relation to the land. In third place was Dead Slow Ahead, an abstract piece that was hypnotic and included images of machines devouring workers; a film as a critique of neocapitalism. In second place was Highway Rest Stop, which explored the life of workers in a service station in France, this film explored the big issues of the day; migrant workers, low pay and the challenges of family life on the road. Finally, in first place was Swagger our chosen winner about young people’s aspirations in a ghetto of Paris, using drones and dream-like sequences, the film explored their difficulties in life, dreams and aspirations. We presented our reasoning for the selection to the Construir Cine team, and I presented an award on the final night of the festival and was interviewed on Construir TV.
Along with a talk that I gave with Construir Cine director Alejandra Marano at Lumiton Usina Audiovisual on the value of Labour film festivals, I also introduced a retrospective on the films of British documentary filmmaker Kim Longinotto.
As a film festival director in London, I have taken inspiration from the festival and hope to form future collaborations, working closely with Alejandra. I am planning to run a similar film contest in the UK with features as well as shorts using Fest Homes platform. We hope to continue to work alongside Construir Cine in bringing more British and European films into their contest in the future, and we will want Alejandra’s support for our contest in getting contributions from Latin America.
I learnt a lot about Argentina and I was moved by Memoria Park, dedicated to the victims of state terrorism; the ‘dirty war’. Whilst I was there I attended a march that took place against the release of the perpetrators of this crime which took place between 1976-1983 and murdered 30,000 left wing objectors.