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Argentine Cinema and National Identity (1966-1976)$

Carolina Rocha

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940544

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781786940544.001.0001

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Argentine Cinema, 1966–1973

Argentine Cinema, 1966–1973

Chapter:
(p.41) Chapter 3 Argentine Cinema, 1966–1973
Source:
Argentine Cinema and National Identity (1966-1976)
Author(s):

Carolina Rocha

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781786940544.003.0004

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter, I discuss the three cinema laws were passed during military governments of Onganía, Levingston, and Lanusse between 1996 and 1973 as well as the challenges that Argentine cinema faced during these years. Different sectors (producer, directors, and exhibitors) had contrasting opinions about subsidies for cinema. I also discuss the creation of the Film Rating Board.

Keywords:   Cinema laws, Censorship, National Institute of Cinema (NIC), Film Rating Board

To solve the glitches of Law 62/57, another cinema law was passed in 1966. One of the problems of this law was that the percentage received by producers as loans/subsidies could well exceed a film’s box office takings and total costs. For instance, Del brazo y por la calle [Arm in Arm Down the Street] received 8,582,794 million pesos from the NIC while, as shown in Table 2, its box office takings were less than 5 million. Similarly, Castigo al traidor [Punishment to the Traitor] had a pending balance with the NIC of 6,007,956 million pesos, but received only 981,176, still significantly more than its box office takings of 769,390 pesos (‘Optimismo,’ 1966, 381). This state of affairs had led Grassi to warn in February 1966 that the refunds from the NIC would be one of the main areas of change in the cinema law (‘Recuperación,’ 1966, 47). Consequently, it was promised that the eight films/producers that still needed to be paid would see their refunds in January 1967, provided that the NIC’s takings were strong (‘El resto,’ 1966, 389). High subsidies had depleted the NIC’s operational funds even though its revenue had consistenly increased: according to Grassi, its income in 1963 was 300 million, 330 million in 1964, 440 million in 1965, and around 550–80 million in 1966 (‘Grassi se confiesa,’ 1966, 309).

Law 16,955—which amended that of 1957—was passed in September 1966, but without crucial input from those working in the Argentine film industry. Fundamentally, the new law sought to address the financial problems that were besieging the NIC, particularly the fondo de recuperación industrial [industrial recuperation fund]. The new law encouraged box office successes as film revenues could be used to finance up to 75% of future film productions, the reinvestment of earnings serving as an effective way to promote national films (‘Nueva ley de,’ 1966, 21). Nonetheless, the reinvestment of earnings was limited to what had been invested in film production, addressing the problem that some films received more funds than was spent on their production because of their solid performance at the box office.1 This new law also contemplated the end of the live performances that had generated so much controversy. One aspect that the law regulated was the decisions of the panels in charge of selecting films, which could not be appealed. Moreover, (p.42) this law specified the creation of 20 different awards, which would replace the cash prizes, such as Best Feature Film shot in color and black and white, Best Short Film shot in color and black and white, Best Actor and Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Of these prizes, perhaps the most curious was the one to reward exhibitors who showed Argentine films, which spoke to the difficulty of screening national films. The law also aimed to strongly support films for children. Finally, a general and an associate manager would replace the director in charge of the NIC. The law called for the creation of a Film Rating Board comprising the general manager, three members of the NIC, and one representative of producers and exhibitors each. The Board would classify films as category A—obligatory exhibition and all benefits specified in the law—or B—without obligation to be exhibited or benefits, but some of this films would be eligible for export. Law 16,995, however, was far from pleasing all sectors. In October 1966, the Association of Argentine Actors complained to the NIC authorities, saying that they had not been heard in the crafting of the law, whose modifications ‘no sólo no fueron solicitadas sino que concurren a agravar la crisis permanente en nuestro cine’ [not only were not requested, but also help to worsen the permanent crisis of our cinema] (‘Pronunciamiento,’ 1966, 411). In addition, those signing the complaint argued that the state decided films’ content and messages (‘Pronunciamiento,’ 1966, 411). Also pushing for the interests of its members, the Association of Argentine Distributors of Films (AADF) proposed the centralization of decisions related to cinema at the NIC, the implementation of higher quotas for the importation of films whose commercialization would help increase the promotion fund, and the substitution of the live performance for an Argentine short.

After the passing of the new law, one of the first tasks for the new NIC authorities was to balance the accounts. By September 1966, the NIC owed several producers who had not been paid cash prizes or the industrial recuperation subsidies (‘Optimismo,’ 1966, 381 and 389). A month later, the new authorities made a public statement saying that exhibitors owed the NIC 118 million pesos, corresponding to the 10% tax to promote Argentine cinema. Another 117 million pesos pertaining to the tax (15%) to build schools were also due. The statement asserted that ‘entre ambos totalizan 235 millones, cifra obviamente considerable que el estado no cobró hasta ahora por sus propias deficiencias de control y administración’ [both add up to 235 million, a considerable amount that the state has not yet collected due to its own shortcomings in control and administration] (‘Moratoria,’ 1966, 438). Only in March 1967 could the NIC begin to provide new loans for film productions (‘Comenzó,’ 1967, 131). This was possible thanks to increased revenue as a result of the strong box office performance of several films during the previous year. Hotel Alojamiento [Hotel Lodging] (Fernando Ayala), Pimienta [Pepper] (Carlos Rinaldi), Cómo te extraño mi amor [How I Miss You, My Darling] (Enrique Cahen Salaberry), Mi primera novia [My First Girlfriend] (Enrique Carreras), Pampa salvaje [Savage Pampa] (Hugo (p.43) Fregonese), and Del brazo y por la calle (Enrique Carreras) all did very well at the box office.2 Nonetheless, an editorial in El heraldo continued to warn readers about problems affecting the Argentine film industry:

Si el conjunto no mueve precisamente al optimismo, su característica mayor—y en parte su disculpa—es la estrecha vinculación al desasosiego económico-político en que se está debatiendo el reemplazo de una ley inactual por otra (de emergencia) narcotizante y a la falta de visión comercial, planificación y elevadas miras de los mismos productores.

[If this ensemble does not precisely generate optimism, its main characteristic—and in part its apology—is the close connection to the economic and political instability in which the replacement of one old-fashioned law for another (urgent) narcotic one is being debated as well as the lack of commercial vision, planning, and the producers’ lofty goals]

(‘Balance 66,’ 1967, 14)

In 1966, two films stood out for their quality and the topics they depicted. Castigo al traidor (Manuel Antín) and El ojo que espía [The Eavesdropper] (Leopoldo Torre Nilsson) enjoyed moderate success among viewers and critics alike, but both represented Argentine filmmaking at film festivals. Released in May 1966, Castigo was nominated by the NIC to be Argentina’s entry at the eighth Mar del Plata Film Festival. Based on a short story by Augusto Roa Bastos, Castigo deals with a man who meets his father’s killer. El mundo praised Antín’s film, stating that Castigo ‘abre un rumbo diferente en la obra del más discutido (en alto nivel obviamente) de los realizadores argentinos. El estilo de Antín continúa extendiéndose en films enigmáticos que ahora, en su beneficio, han perdido hermetismo’ [opens a new path in the oeuvre of the most polemical (at the highest level obviously) of Argentine filmmakers. Antín’s style remains evident in enigmatic films that now, to his benefit, have lost their hermetic quality] (‘Un Antín,’ 1966, 15). For its part, Torre Nilsson’s El ojo que espia, based on a script by Beatriz Guido, was a US-Argentine co-production financed by Columbia Pictures narrating the subversive political activities of Martín Casal (Statis Giallelis), a member of a traditional upper-class family. The review in El mundo stressed the film’s importance: ‘constituye, según se adelanta, el primero intento serio para que nuestro cine tenga una difusión en el exterior puesto que fue realizado en dos versiones en castellano y en inglés con el propósito de conquistar otros mercados para la exhibición de films argentinos’ [it constitutes, as anticipated, the first serious effort to distribute our cinema abroad, given that it was shot in two versions (in Spanish and in English) with the goal of reaching other markets for the exhibition of Argentine films] (‘Testimonio,’ 1967, 17). For El heraldo’s critic, the film was mediocre, given that ‘personajes y sentimientos no han sido tratados con la agudeza que las difíciles circunstancias aludidas requerían’ [characters and feelings are not depicted with the sharpness that the difficult circumstances required] (‘El ojo,’ 1966, 362). Despite its weak (p.44) critical reception, El ojo was screened at several film festivals—Rio de Janeiro in 1965, Cannes in 1966, and the eighth Mar del Plata Film Festival in 1966 as an invited film. In 1967, it garnered two Silver Condors: one for best director (Leopoldo Torre Nilsson) and another for best film.

For Argentine cinema, 1967 was a year of paradoxes. On the one hand, the total number of Argentine films released that year fell from 34 to 27, a drop of almost 20% which put film production at the same level as that of 1963. This decrease went against the forecasts and optimism that Argentine cinema had generated in January 1967 (‘Pronostican,’ 1967, 78). On the other hand, the first semester of the year saw the release of 47% more films than in 1966 (‘Primer semester,’ 1967, 280) and the total number of spectators in downtown Buenos Aires movie theaters reached 10,246,285, a number that would decrease in the next two years (‘150.000 espectadores,’ 1970, 15). The strong attendance positively impacted revenue: in the first four months of 1967, the NIC raised 18% more funds than in the same four months of the previous year, which amounted to an extra 28 million pesos earmarked for loans for future films (‘18% más,’ 1967, 217). This fresh solvency in turn allowed the extension of credit lines for new films:

El Instituto Nacional de Cinematografía, completado su saneamiento económico, está en condiciones de otorgar préstamos, aunque eso sí […] con una cierta selección: preferirá los de temas importantes y dejará de lado los netamente comerciales, que pueden hallar financiación por otras vías; en todo caso, más adelante, robustecidos los fondos, también habrá créditos para ellos.

[Having completed its economic restructuring, the National Institute of Cinematography is now able to provide loans, though (…) with certain conditions: it will prefer those with important topics and will disregard those that are eminently commercial and can get funding from other sources; in any case, once the funds are robust, there will be loans for them, too] (‘Ahora que,’ 1967, 387)

Nevertheless, some of the first loans provided by the NIC went precisely to popular films, such as ¡Al diablo con este cura! [To Hell with this Priest!] (Carlos Rinaldi) and Tacuara y Chamorro [Tacuara and Chamorro] (Catrano Catrani), both comedies with popular actors as the strategy was to orient production toward mass entertainment (‘Pronostican,’ 1967, 78). A drama, Soluna [Soluna] (Marcos Madanes), was also selected based on the ‘criterio de no olvidar las realizaciones artísticas aunque se vuelque gran apoyo sobre los entretenimientos susceptibles de mantener una fuerte concurrencia de público al cine argentino’ [guideline of not forgetting artistic works even while giving strong support to entertaining projects likely to maintain a strong audience showing for Argentine cinema] (‘Comenzó a dar,’ 1967, 131).

The most remarkable film of 1967 was El romance del Aniceto y la Francisca [Aniceto and Francisca’s Romance] directed by Leonardo Favio. Shot in (p.45) black and white, El romance garnered four Silver Condors for Best Film, Best Actor (Federico Luppi), Best Actress (Elsa Daniel), and Best Supporting Actor (Edgardo Suárez).3 Gente described it as ‘una pequeña joyita que revela muchísima dedicación y talento en todo sentido, pero podría asegurarse que es casi incomprensible para el llamado “público grande”’ [a nice little jewel that reveals a lot of dedication and talent in every sense, but it could be stated that it is almost incomprehensible for the so-called ‘broad public’] (El romance,’ 1967, 44).4 Indeed, El romance has original aerial shots and slow pans that show a mastery of camerawork, yet the film’s dialogues are sparse and simple, emphasizing the slow narrative. The lead actor, Federico Luppi, however, was deemed ‘excepcional, un actor cuya fuerza interpretativa es poco común’ [exceptional, an actor whose performative force is unique] (El romance,’ 1967, 45).

One of the pending issues of 1967 was the change to the existing cinema law—Law 16,955—passed the previous year. A draft began circulating in January 1967, with provisions for film classifications, theaters, exhibition quotas, the fondo de recuperación [fund to recuperate costs], and refunds for those exhibitors who showed national films. According to El heraldo, exhibitors considered the draft deplorable, but producers indicated that while the document was far from perfect, ‘se extrañan de la reacción de los empresarios, que no retacearon su disconformidad’ [they (were) surprised by the reaction of the businessmen, who (did) not hide their displeasure] (‘Reacciones,’ 1967, 35). The draft anticipated refunding producers up to 75% of the approved costs and trailers, while exhibitors would receive 7% of each theater’s earnings minus taxes only after 60 days. As the draft was being composed, Jorge Couselo wrote an opinion piece in July 1967 urging the authorities to consider cinema as both a cultural and economic product (‘Romance,’ 1967, 270). Throughout 1967, there were meetings between Lieutenant Colonel Ridruejo, producers, and exhibitors regarding the branding of Argentine cinema abroad. In one such meeting, Ridruejo pledged his support for a promotional plan but indicated the need to research markets, set priorities, and concentrate on those markets most receptive to Argentine films (‘¿Qué vendemos?’, 1967, 216).

Given the budgetary constraints and the selection process, co-productions were seen as an alternative means to finance films.5 Ramón ‘Palito’ Ortega starred in El rey en Londres [The King in London], an Argentine-British co-production between Saga Films SA and Associated British Pathé Productions that was released in October 1966 with a provisionary authorization from the NIC (‘En Londres,’ 1966, 22).6 Shot in Eastman color with the participation of actress Graciela Borges, El rey follows a popular Argentine singer around London as he watches the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and attends theatrical plays. The voiceovers of ‘the king’ and his partner Graciela provide additional explanation of the events they witness. The film was far from well-received, as the public protested it in some screenings. A filmmaker who engaged in co-productions with (p.46) more success was Enrique Carreras. His romantic comedy Del brazo y por la calle (1966), starring Rodolfo Bebán and Evangelina Salazar, was a Spanish-Argentine co-production. The film won a Silver Condor for Best Argentine Film in 1966 and received a Golden Shell for Best Film at the fourteenth San Sebastián Film Festival, while Salazar garnered a Silver Shell for best actress. Carreras also directed the co-produced ¿Quiere casarse conmigo? [Would You Marry Me?] (1967) and Este cura [This Priest], also known as Operación San Antonio [Operation San Antonio] (1968), based on a script by acclaimed Spanish writer Alfonso Paso. Other co-produced films shot in 1966 and released in 1967 were: Escándalo en la familia [Scandal in the Family] (Spain-Argentina, Julio Porter), La perra [The Bitch] (Mexico-Argentina, Emilio Gómez Muriel), and En la selva no hay estrellas [No Stars in the Jungle] (Argentina-Peru, Armando Robles Godoy) (‘Coproducciones 66,’ 1967, 45).7 Co-productions released in 1968 were the Mexican-Argentine La cama [The Bed] directed by Mexican Emilio Gómez Muriel, based on a script by Alfredo Ruanova, with whom he had worked on La perra, and Una sueca entre nosotros [A Swede Among Us], also known as Amor a la española [Spanish Love] (Fernando Merino) with Argentine actress Erika Wallner.

Co-productions opened the door for much-needed exchanges with other Latin American countries and Spain. Perhaps as a result of the critical reception of Castigo, Antín received the offer to direct El muerto [The Dead One], based on one of Jorge Luis Borges’s stories, in Brazil.8 In a cable to France Presse, Antín stated that ‘el cine latinoamericano debe unificar sus esfuerzos para constituir un mercado común con producciones de alta calidad’ [Latin American cinema must combine its strengths to create a common market for its high-quality productions] (‘Manuel Antín,’ 1966, 14). The idea of building a common market for Latin American films was also encouraged by the NIC. Leopoldo Torre Nilsson also resorted to co-productions with international partners. His Homenaje a la hora de la siesta [Four Women for One Hero] (1962) was an Argentine-Brazilian-French co-production which, despite representing Argentina at the Venice Film Festival in 1962, was far from being a solid film. Torre Nilsson also directed El ojo en la cerradura Columbia Pictures.9 Nonetheless, he expressed concerns about the system:

La co-producción ha sido simplemente un fenómeno [de] cofinanciación […] La co-producción lleva en sí un germen nocivo. Por eso la solución tiene que ser una solución nacional [… Los países] tienen que aprovechar la savia nacional para desarrollarse con los elementos que cuentan, sin la intromisión del capital o los elementos foráneos, siempre peligrosos.

[Co-productions have simply been a phenomenon (of) co-financing (…) Co-productions have a harmful side. That is why the solution should be a national one (… Countries) must take advantage of their national vitality to develop with the elements they have, without the interference of foreign capital or elements, which is always dangerous]

(‘Leopoldo Torre Nilsson,’ 1966, 49)

(p.47) Despite these comments cautioning against co-productions, a year later Torre Nilsson made three more co-produced films, in association with American producer André du Rona. The first was La chica de los lunes [Monday’s Child] (1967), shot in Puerto Rico with US actors in the lead roles—Geraldine Chaplin, Arthur Kennedy, and Deborah Reed—and an Argentine crew.10 Their second co-production was Los traidores de San Ángel [Traitors of San Angel] (1968), Torre Nilsson’s first color film, with actress Graciela Borges in a lead role, and the third was Martín Fierro (1968).11 In March 1967, it was announced that Torre Nilsson would direct The White Witch of Rose Hall, which would be shot in Jamaica with a $3 million budget. The film, based on the book by Derek Pousek, was the biography of Annie Palmer, a woman accused of murdering her husbands using voodoo rites (‘Nilsson y la primera,’ 1967, 111). This project, however, ended up being cancelled.

While co-productions were crucial for Argentine films to capture new markets, their entrance into other countries was riddled with difficulties. First, there was the perception that the Argentine was a kind of cinema that did not generate interest. In an opinion piece, Héctor Olivera, founder and business partner of Aries Cinematográfica, admitted that ‘El cine argentino no interesa en el exterior’ [Argentine cinema does not interest audiences abroad], but later added that ‘lo único que interesa en América latina de nuestras películas es el sexo’ [the only thing in our films that interests Latin America is sex] (Vertiz, 1967, 264). Olivera’s remark was surprising given that one of Aries’s productions, Hotel Alojamiento, was sold to Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, the United States, Germany, and Venezuela, proving that Argentine films could be sold abroad. The publicity for Hotel’s release in Venezuela did not mention its country of origin, but the film performed well nonetheless. In addition to Olivera, Armando Bó and Torre Nilsson both released films abroad. Despite these achievements, Sono Films called off business trips throughout Latin America since in 1967 it could only sell films to Uruguay; investing in capturing new markets proved onerous for Argentine producers. One of the issues faced by producers seeking to expand their audiences was whether to sell the rights to their films in a lump sum or to use percentages depending on the film’s reception. The former was a way to avoid getting into checking accounts in a foreign country but this option had the downside that the selling price could end up being too low if the film did well, and the latter demanded time and trips to build a trustworthy network. Another factor to consider was the star power in each film. Lucio Vertiz noted that Isabel Sarli and Libertad Leblanc, two actresses with recognition abroad, did not enjoy a good reputation in Argentina, and actors such as Carlos Bala and Palito Ortega, popular in Argentina, struggled to attract crowds in other Latin American countries (Vertiz, 1967, 267).

Along with the push for co-productions, there was also an interest in representing national themes. In mid-1967, Torre Nilsson announced that he would direct Martín Fierro, Argentina’s national poem written by José Hernández in 1872, with a total budget of 70 million pesos, of which du (p.48) Rona would supply half. Probably because of the topic, the film was not considered a co-production. Torre Nilsson had contemplated shooting Martín Fierro in the early 1960s as a joint endeavor between his production company, Angel, and Argentina Sono Films, but the project fell through. Years later, while directing two co-productions in Puerto Rico, he began to think again about shooting Martín Fierro. In an interview he admitted that ‘Beatriz Guido terminó por convencerme de que sólo contando la historia de Martín Fierro podría contar la historia de todos los argentinos que había querido y que era el modo más notorio de integrarnos al país’ [Beatriz Guido ended up convincing me that only by telling the story of Martín Fierro would I be able to tell the story of all the Argentines I have loved and that it was the most obvious way to integrate ourselves into the country] (‘Si no hago,’ 1967, 262). The film was one of the biggest commercial hits of the year with gross earnings of 200 million pesos.12 A thorough analysis of Martín Fierro is presented in Section II, ‘The Gauchesque.

Table 3: Most Popular Argentine Films in 1968

Film

Producer

Martín Fierro (Leopoldo Torre Nilsson)

Contracuadro

Un muchacho como yo [A Boy Like Me] (Enrique Carreras)

Sono

Psexoanalisis [Sex Analysis] (Héctor Olivera)

Aries

Lo prohibido está de moda [Forbidden Things are in Style] (Fernando Siro)

European

Digan lo que digan [Let Them Talk] (Mario Camus)

Co-production with Spain and Sono

Coche-cama alojamiento (Julio Porter)

Sono

Source: ‘1968,’ El heraldo: 592.

Other important developments of Argentine cinema in 1968 were the role of political filmmaking and a new cinema law. The Cine Liberación group entered the cinematographic scene, initiating what Ana López has called a ‘film act’ that would encourage active participation in the decolonization process (1988b, 64) and John King has termed the ‘new Latin American cinema’ influenced by revolutionary ideas (1990, 66). Filmmakers Octavio Getino, Jorge Cedrón, and Fernando Solanas saw film as a powerful medium to enlighten the illiterate rural masses as well as students and the working classes who could develop class-based solidarity to fight for radical social change (Burton, 1986; Lusnich and Piedras, 2011). They sought to increase Argentines’ awareness of their own country and the region’s dependency and ‘backwardness.’ In May 1968, La hora de los hornos [The Hour of the Furnaces] (Getino and Solanas) was released.13 Getino and Solanas proposed (p.49) a ‘Third Cinema,’ which was associated with Third World countries and was different from the First Cinema, represented by Hollywood, and Second Cinema, auterist cinema. For Mariano Mestman, ‘el cine militante involucra en un lugar central la discusión sobre el desarrollo de un circuito popular de exhibición’ [militant cinema makes central the discussion of the development of a popular circuit of exhibition] (2001, 124). That is to say, given its social function, Third Cinema was not to be screened in traditional movie theaters, but rather in an alternative circuit, close to the masses. This was so because this new cinema, according to King, ‘grew up in imaginative proximity of social revolution’ (1990, 66). Thus, as befits radical change, new forms of production and exhibition were used.

The second development of 1968 was the passing of another cinema law, in May. Article 7 of Law 17,741 listed the features of national films: they had to be Spanish-language, produced by Argentines residing in Argentina, and shot at least 75% in Argentina and/or with a 75% Argentine cast, more than 60 minutes long, and shot in 35 mm. Article 8 listed the features of shorts: at least 30 minutes long, shot entirely in Argentina with a domestic cast, and without advertising. Article 9 mandated the NIC to classify films through the Junta Asesora Honoraria [Honorary Advisory Board]. Article 23 detailed the mandatory certificate for the exhibition of national and foreign films: ‘El instituto podrá negar este certificado por razones comerciales o por atentar contra el estilo de nacional de vida o las pautas culturales de la comunidad argentina’ [The institute may deny this certificate for commercial reasons or for conspiring against the national lifestyle or the cultural guidelines of the Argentine community] (‘Ley 17,741,’ 1968, 206). Article 24 defined the fund for the protection of national cinema. One of the most curious aspects of this law was Article 35’s statement that producers would receive subsidies proportional to their films’ performance abroad. Also, at a time when the Argentine state was seeking to protect the national film industry, the new law allowed the entry of foreign films at the discretion of the NIC.14 The law also regulated a new category called ‘special interest’ for domestic films. Finally, Article 40 indicated that the NIC would decide annually the amount of funding available for national and co-produced films.

Although the new law had been in preparation for more than a year, its passing had a mixed reception. For film directors Feldman, Carreras, and Demare, one positive aspect of it was the promotion of shorts and they thought that, overall, the law was an encouraging sign for the future of Argentine cinema though there were still details to be discussed. Producers Federico Nieves and Atilio Metasti also highlighted the protection of shorts, but Nieves noted certain ambiguous points that were concerning and Metasti singled out the power given to the NIC (‘Opiniones,’ 1968, 28). For El heraldo, the new law only benefitted producers and national laboratories (‘1968 fue el año,’ 1968, 591). It was not popular among exhibitors, who experienced diminishing numbers of spectators as a result of the compulsory showing of Argentine films, greater fiscal pressure, and an increase in the price of renting (p.50) movie theaters. All these circumstances contributed to cutting their earnings to 22.5% of the price of each movie ticket (‘1968 fue el año,’ 1968, 592). At the end of May 1968, two weeks after Law 17,741 was approved, a group of exhibitors met with Ridruejo to express their dissatisfaction with the new law. They also warned that they would contest it, citing its unconstitutionality (‘Salas A al 50,’ 1968, 223). As a way to placate the opposition, an advisory board was created to classify different theaters. Exhibitors also continued to push for an average number of spectators required for the continued screening of Argentine films, while producers understood that the average should be based on the price of a movie ticket (‘Exhibidores,’ 1968, non. pag.). In addition, from June to July 1968, three public debates were held to discuss the new regulation. In the final debate of August 1968, it was stated that ‘la nueva ley, rigurosamente analizada por los abogados del quehacer cinematográfico, no responde, en la totalidad de sus aspectos a las necesidades y prospectos del cine nacional’ [rigorously analyzed by lawyers specializing in cinema, the new law does not meet, in the totality of its facets, the needs or the directions of national cinema] (‘Se realizó,’ 1968, 9). According to the newspaper La capital, the most contentious aspects of the new law were Article 3, which contemplated the exclusion of certain films from exhibition, and Article 23, in which the Argentine lifestyle and the cultural features of the Argentine community were mentioned (‘Se realizó,’ 1968, 9). In August, Resolution 491/68 of the NIC decreed that Argentine films should be approved by the Ente Nacional de Calificación [National Film Rating Board] before being submitted to the Honorary Advisory Board, which would decide on their classification and mandatory screening. The National Film Rating Board was established in December, without representatives from either filmmakers or actors. For directors, the new law would have to strike a balance between industrial and creative aspects so that those receiving funds from the NIC could express themselves freely. Nonetheless, at the end of 1968, new credit lines for the film industry were established between the Banco Nación and the NIC (‘1968 fue,’ 1968, 591). One of the first loans under the new law went to Aries Cinematográfica for the production of La fiaca [The Fiaca] (Fernando Ayala).15

Film production in 1968 was characterized by the box office success of Martín Fierro and several comedies such as Un muchacho como yo [A Boy Like Me] (Enrique Carreras) and Psexoanalisis [Sex Analysis] (Héctor Olivera). These films were made possible thanks to the industrial recuperation fund and were aimed at large audiences as a way to recuperate costs (‘1968 fue,’ 1968, 592). Unlike the popular films of 1968, Juan José Jusid’s debut Tute cabrero [Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo] stood out. Directed by Jusid, who had experience in advertising, Tute cabrero centers around three employees who must decide who will be fired from their downsizing company. For Juan Ignacio Torres, despite Tute cabrero’s costumbrismo, its originality resides in unusual takes that allow for multiple interpretations (2010, 68). The film’s script, originally written for TV by Roberto Cossa, had problems (p.51) that resulted in stretching situations and repetitions to the detriment of its dramatic development (M.A.R., 1968, 41).

Table 4: Most Popular Films in Argentina

Film

Country

Box-office takings

Guess Who is Coming to Dinner?

USA

81,707,060

To Sir with Love

UK

54,101,220

Wait Until Dark

USA

43,603,670

Closely Watched Trains

Czechoslovakia

39,255,960

Life for Life

France

39,000,000

Martín Fierro

Argentina

37,381,150

Belle de Jour

France

33,767,060

The Graduate

USA

30,000,000

Source: ‘Los éxitos del año,’ Gente, 2 January 1969: non. pag.

Although the NIC had more resources by the late 1960s, the workings of censorship were still a sore point for directors and producers. Leonardo Favio’s El dependiente [The Shop Assistant] encountered problems with its release that exemplified some of the risks faced by independent productions.16 Produced by Contracuadro—Torre Nilsson’s production company—without support from the NIC, Favio’s film was finished in 1968. It received the Cine Nuevo [New Cinema] award and an honorable mention from the Federation of Cine Clubs of Spain at the San Sebastián Film Festival and the award for best film at the International Film Festival of Cartagena, but it was only released in Argentina in 1969. While El dependiente also garnered the Best Actor Award for Walter Vidarte and Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Nora Cullen from the Argentine Association of Cinema Journalists, it enjoyed little success with either the public or critics. A review in Boom identified its weakness: ‘la realidad está alejada de los personajes, sus trazos son demasiado gruesos, demasiado exagerados y grotescos como para sentirlos como reales’ [the characters are too far from reality, the lines too thick, too exaggerated, and grotesque to feel them as real] (‘Leonardo Favio,’ 1969, 53). Initially, in June 1968, El dependiente was given a B rating that would have made its showing non-mandatory (‘Inquietud,’ 1968, non. pag.), but that decision was overturned in December 1968 by Ridruejo, who justified his move by mentioning ‘la elección de recursos que incorpora a una línea argumental simple’ [the choice of techniques that are added to a simple plot line] (‘Ridruejo decidió A,’ 1968, 259). With a simple mise-en-scène, El dependiente tells the story of Mr. Fernández (Walter Vidarte), a salesman who has been working in a hardware store for 25 years and is the owner’s only heir. Fernández falls in love with Miss Plasini (Graciela Borges), a mysterious woman who lives with her mother (Nora Cullen). Both lead lonely lives isolated from the town, and (p.52) thus are socially awkward, borderline neurotics. As Mr. Fernández courts Miss Plasini, he learns of the existence of her mentally disabled brother who has been hidden since birth. Amid long silences and sparse dialogues, Miss Plasini indicates that she would like to flee her oppressive family life. Fernández offers her stability and love, but must wait for his boss Mr. Vila to pass away, so he can become his legal inheritor. When Mr. Vila dies unexpectedly, Fernández discovers that his newfound freedom comes at the expense of a sense of guilt at the demise of his boss. He marries Miss Plasini only to discover that she has now taken Mr. Vila’s position of authority. This realization leads him to poison their soup. El heraldo’s review highlighted the film’s ‘estimulante visión crítica de la vulgaridad moral y la chatura pueblerinas’ [stimulating critical vision of moral vulgarity and small-town lack of perspective] (1969, 9). For his part, Leo Sala, reviewer for Gente, described it as ‘realismo mágico de un mundo ingenuo con una anécdota brutalmente simple, pero, sin embargo, de una audacia increíble el tratamiento del montaje y en la dirección de los actores’ [magical realism from a naïve world with a brutally simple story, but, nevertheless, with incredible audacity in the treatment of the montage and the direction of the cast] (1969, 32). As in Romance del Aniceto y la Francisca, Favio’s portrayal of anonymous lives was created with great attention to the camerawork and the soundtrack.

By the end of the decade, the outlook of Argentine cinema was far from promising. Although in 1969 two films—Manuel Antín’s Don Segundo Sombra and David José Kohon’s Breve cielo [Brief Heaven]—captured the critics’ attention, viewing figures for Argentine films decreased for the second consecutive year. Don Segundo Sombra, a cinematic adaptation of the homonymous novel by Ricardo Güiraldes, received the Condor Prize in 1969. It also won the Best Director and Best Adaptation awards for Antín, Best Color Picture for Miguel Rodríguez, and Best Cinematography for Pochi Mopurgo from the Argentine Association of Film Journalists. It was nominated for the Palm d’Or in Cannes as well.17 For Gente, the film ‘carece de nervio, de poesía, de esa inmensa fuerza que hay en la obra literaria’ [lacks nerve, poetry, that immense force that can be found in the literary work] (Sala, 1969, non. pag.). However, it was recommended to viewers and was well received abroad despite its local theme.18 Breve cielo garnered the Best Screenplay award for David José Kohon—shared with Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares for Invasión [Invasion] (Hugo Santiago), Best Soundtrack for Astor Piazzolla, and Best Actress for Ana María Picchio from the Argentine Association of Television and Radio Journalists, also received the same award at the Moscow International Film Festival (‘Sombra,’ 1970, 152). The film critic of La prensa, J.P., characterized Breve cielo as ‘una de las películas más auténticas y sinceras de los últimos años’ [one of the most authentic and candid films of the last few years] (‘Breve cielo,’ 1969, 35). A week later, Gente’s critic Edgardo Ritacco noted the marked difference in opinion between specialized critics and the public that ‘fueron a verla 3,500 personas. Una cifra que está por debajo de la media que establece el cine. (p.53) Y todo quedó en la nada por más que la crítica fue excelente’ [3,500 people went to see it, a number that is well below the established average and it all came to nothing despite the excellent reviews] (1969, 72).

In addition to these films, two others by independent directors deserve consideration. Ricardo Becher (1930–2011) and Alberto Fischerman (1937–1995), who had a background in advertising, released films that were very formally innovative: Tiro de gracia [Coup de Grâce] and The Players versus Ángeles caídos [The Players versus Fallen Angels]. Nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, Tiro de gracia deals with a group of young people who lead aimless lives. J.P. stated that, ‘El talón de Aquilles está en que a nadie le importan los personajes que carecen de relieve dramático’ [Its Achilles heel is that nobody cares about the characters’ lack of dramatic depth] (‘Tiro,’ 1969, 10). The film’s release was possible thanks to the backing of Torre Nilsson’s production company Contracuadro (Peña, 2000, 77). For Mercedes Halfon, the progressive spectators and critics of the late 1960s were harsh with this film because they disliked its depiction of class struggle. Reevaluating Tiro 40 years later, Halfon stresses its merits: ‘La particularidad la marcaban las imágenes que se sucedían dentro de la cabeza de los personajes. Ahí el film arriesgaba todo y encontraba su radicalidad. Fue innovadora en muchos aspectos: se filmó en espacios reales y con casi todos no actores’ [Its distinctiveness was based on images that were produced in the characters’ minds. It was here that the film risked everything and where its radicalism lies. It was innovative in many ways: it was shot on location and almost all the actors were non-professionals] (2010, non. pag.). For its part, The Players versus Ángeles caídos presents two groups of rival actors who engage in bets and games, trying to prove their superiority. César Maranghello characterizes the film as ‘una párabola sobre el fracaso y el triunfo del actor’ [a parable about the failure and success of the actor] (2000, 31). For film scholar Jorge Sala, ‘hay una pérdida deliberada de la anécdota en función de la supremacía radical de lo reflexivo’ [there is a deliberate loss of the story because of the radical supremacy of the reflexive] (2012, non. pag.). The lack of a linear narrative is detrimental to the film’s coherence. Becher and Fisherman were members of the ‘Group of 5’ alongside Néstor Paternostro (1937–), Juan José Stagnaro (1938–), and Raúl de la Torre (1938–2010). They were close to the activities promoted by the Instituto Di Tella. For Néstor Tirri, this ‘group’ shared a utopia: ‘filmar de otra manera de la que imperaba en los años cincuenta y sesenta en la Argentina’ [shooting in a different way from the prevailing one in the 1950s and 1960s in Argentina] (2000, 9). While its members also carried out a market analysis of film production and collaborated on The Players, they lacked a unifying aesthetics. Nonetheless, as Rafael Filipelli asserts, ‘El grupo de los cinco representa el último intento de hacer películas con un sistema de producción que no dependiera de la industria’ [The Group of 5 represents the final attempt at making films with a production system that would not depend on the industry] (2000, 14). Finally, Hugo Santiago directed the French-Argentine co-production Invasión from (p.54)

Table 5: Spectators and Number of Imported Films

Year

Total spectators

Imported films

1967

10,246,285

424

1968

9,300,168

411

1969

8,441,803

186

Source: ‘La concurrencia,’ El heraldo, 18 August 1970: 436.

a screenplay on which he collaborated with Jorge Luis Borges. Now a classic science fiction film, Invasión received a Silver Condor for Best Direction and garnered an honorable mention at the Locarno International Film Festival.19 According to Santiago, the film lends itself to different readings as it depicts a country occupied by imperialist forces (2002, 56).

Despite the formal originality of these films, by the end of the decade it was unquestionable that Argentine cinema was losing audiences. The loss of approximately 1.8 million spectators in just two years reduced the funds available for new films and had several causes. First, cinema was now increasingly competing with television for audiences. Second, the rising purchasing power of the middle class allowed for a diversification of leisure activities; as the number of cars increased, cinema attendance decreased for mobility allowed the enjoyment of other activities. These two causes were felt worldwide. A third cause, which affected only Argentina, was the implementation of new customs laws and taxes that had a significant impact on the entry of foreign films, reducing foreign releases from 424 in 1967 to 186 in 1969 (‘La concurrencia,’ 1970, 436). Jorge Sirlin, an exhibitor, explained that ‘Antes se cobraba un derecho de importación por el número de copias que entraban al país, y a partir de junio último se cobra un tanto por ciento de lo que estime el importador que la película va a producir en el país’ [Before, an import tax was charged based on the number of copies that entered the country, but since last June, a percentage of what an importer estimates the film will make in the country is charged] (‘Agoniza,’ 1969, 17). The bulk of foreign films released had been imported before the new customs regulations came into effect, that is to say, old and second-class films were shown in the best movie theaters. The new tariff came on top of the high taxes which the state was levying on film tickets. Therefore, the Association of Cinematographic Businessmen of Buenos Aires proposed that the state lower taxes by 15% so that this reduction could, in turn, be passed on to viewers. Both taxation and censorship were constraining the production and consumption of films in Argentina.

Despite the decline in audiences, 1970 looked more promising. First, exhibitors expected good performance from the 22 Argentine films that were ready for release by February 1970—which included films with popular actors such as Hugo del Carril, Luis Sandrini, Palito Ortega, Darío Vittori, Norman (p.55) Briski, and Nélida Lobato—and thought they would make a significant impact on box office revenues. Although censorship still affected approvals and classifications—particularly of films considered to be of a ‘dubious’ morality, such as Ufa con el sexo [Enough with Sex] (Rodolfo Kuhn), Fuego [Fire] (Armando Bó), and Los neuróticos [The Neurotics] (Héctor Olivera)—exhibitors did not see it as a huge handicap. They were, however, concerned by the fact that there were not enough Argentine films to release throughout the whole year (‘Los exhibidores,’ 1970, 57). As shown in Table 6, the number of foreign films in 1970 was more than double that allowed in 1969, even though still inferior to 1968.

Table 6: Number of National and Foreign Films

Year

Number of national films

Number of imported films

1967

27

N/A

1968

40

411

1969

31

186

1970

33 (28 new releases)

391

1971

35

372

Source: El heraldo, 24 July 1972: 239.

Second, the state continued to earmark funds for the production of featurelength films and shorts despite socio-economic problems. Early in the year it was announced that the NIC would produce 15 films, finance eight projects to acquire industrial equipment and strengthen the film school holdings, as well as supporting 20 documentary shorts and 35 shorts for a sum of 14,295,000 pesos (‘El INC,’ 1970, 370). The most important film produced with help from the NIC was Torre Nilsson’s El santo de la espada, which was released in March and immediately became an unprecedented national success with over 2 million viewers. Its analysis and reception are presented in Section III, ‘Representing the Founding Fathers.’ Gitano [Gypsy] (Emilio Vieyra, 1970), a popular comedy-musical starring Sandro, drew over a million viewers. Another comedy, Con alma y vida [With Soul and Life] (David José Kohon) received the Silver Condor for Best Film. The film, about a criminal and his lover, was written by Kohon and Norberto Aroldi, who also played the lead role. La gaceta rated it as very good in terms of box office performance and excellent for quality, describing it as ‘una película al día, con lo que demanda el espectador internacional de 1970’ [a current film with what international viewers of 1970 demand] (1970, 524).

These successful national films were accompanied by the unexpected strong performance of a couple of films by young filmmakers. In 1971, Gente reported that ‘el cine argentino prosigue en vías de desaparición. Raúl de la Torre y Néstor Paternostro con Mosaico demuestran que el cine argentino (p.56) no está muerto, que todavía puede reconciliarse la calidad con la aceptación popular’ [Argentine cinema continues along the path to its disappearance. Raúl de la Torre and Néstor Paternostro show with Mosaico that it is still possible to reconcile quality with popular acceptance] (‘Advertencias,’ 1971, 23). De la Torre’s debut film, Juan Lamaglia y señora [Mr. and Mrs. Lamaglia] won four Silver Condors (Best Film, Best Script for Héctor Grossi and Raúl de la Torre, Best Actor for José Soriano, and Best Actress for Julia von Grolman), the Opera Prima Prize at the Mar del Plata Film Festival, and the Prize for Best Latin American Film at the Cartagena Film Festival. In its first days, Juan Lamaglia y señora broke attendance records (‘Juan Lamaglia hizo,’ 1970, 244). La gaceta classified it as of very good quality and very good box office potential, but added that it was ‘para selectivos’ [for select viewers]. Its review explained that ‘De la Torre no ha concesiones al entretenimiento convencional. Al contrario obliga al espectador a completar los fragmentos de una realidad que ha filmado como una especie de guía para comprender la mentalidad de la gente atada a la rutina’ [De la Torre has made no concessions to conventional entertainment. On the contrary, he makes the viewer complete the pieces of a reality he has shot as a kind of guide to understanding the mindset of people tied to a routine] (1970, 240). For its part, El heraldo stated that Juan Lamaglia y señora was made ‘con mucho empeño y rigor, con inusuales esfuerzos por parte de sus responsables’ [with much determination and rigor, with unusual efforts from all those who participated] (‘La importancia,’ 1970, 277). The film’s script was developed during an eight-month process in which Grossi and de la Torre, along with the actors in the leading roles—Soriano and von Grolman—collaborated in the writing of the script, improvising dialogues and situations (‘Juan Lamaglia,’ 1970, 14). Juan Lamaglia y señora tells the story of a middle-class couple living in a provincial town. Juan is a successful and charismatic businessman and Ana a traditional housewife. After eight years of marriage, their life together follows a routine that resembles that of the city in which they live (Zárate), that is to say, methodical and unproblematic—until Ana runs into an old flame and has an opportunity to be unfaithful to Juan. At the last moment, she changes her mind, but ends up leaving Juan anyway. When he finds out about her departure, he intercepts her flight and takes her home. For Armando Capalbo, de la Torre’s film is saying that ‘El único intento de rebelión está destinado al fracaso o, peor aún, al silencio’ [The only attempt at rebellion is destined to failure, or even worse, to silence] (2000, 118).

Besides de la Torre and Paternostro, David Stivel (1930–1992), a young director who had been in charge of a successful TV program called Cosa juzgada [Res Judicata], directed his first feature film, Los herederos [The Inheritors]. The script was written in collaboration with Norma Aleandro and the cast was composed of actors of the Theater Group: Federico Luppi, Barbara Mujica, Emilio Alfaro, Norma Aleandro, Juan Carlos Gené, Marilina Ross, and Carlos Carella. Stivel’s film was invited to and nominated for the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival, but (p.57) its hostile reception served as a wake-up call for Argentine films seeking recognition abroad, particularly because of the NIC’s policy of only sending films to festivals if it felt that they were strong representatives. La gaceta blamed censorship for the fiasco:

El cine argentino—ahogado por una censura que impide hacer películas críticas por temor a que lleguen a ser subversivas, sin comprender la abismal diferencia que existe entre unas y otras—está limitado al entretenimiento, al escapismo y a algún ejercicio intelectual demasiado indirecto o demasiado hermético para resultar claro, valiente o efectivo.

[Argentine cinema—smothered by a censor that bans making critical films, fearful that they would be subversive, without understanding the huge difference between the two—is limited to entertainment, escapism, and any intellectual exercise too indirect or too hermetic to result in something clear, courageous, or effective]

(‘Ecos,’ 1970, 374)

In 1971, Argentine cinema continued to face challenges: fewer films were produced (26, down from 40), but more were released (‘Cine argentino,’ 1972, 116). Among the releases were several historical films—Torre Nilson’s Güemes, la tierra en armas, René Múgica’s Bajo el signo de la patria, and Héctor Olivera’s Argentino hasta la muerte [Argentine until the End]—that sought to repeat the amazing achievement of El santo de la espada. The first two will be analyzed with more detail in Section III. El heraldo gave Argentino hasta la muerte ten points for being a commercial film and eight for its artistic quality.20 Critic M.R.S. described it as melodrama with a polemical historical background, that of the Paraguayan War, which was ‘manejada por intereses imperialistas y brasileños’ [planned by imperialist and Brazilian interests] (‘Argentino,’ 1971, 254). Other historical films included El milagro de Ceferino Namuncurá [The Miracle of Ceferino Namuncurá] (Máximo Berrondo), Santos Vega (Carlos Borcosque Jr.), and Un guapo del 900 (Lautaro Murúa). Amid the climate of censorship and the encouragement of traditional gender roles, one film stood out, for defying both. Directed by Raúl de la Torre from a script by María Luisa Bemberg, Crónica de una señora [Chronicle of a Lady] featured Graciela Borges in the leading role of Fina, for which she won the Best Actress award at the San Sebastián Film Festival.21 The film revolves around Fina, an upper-class married woman whose life is a succession of social events and dress fittings, until the suicide of a close friend leads her to reassess her life and goals. She starts by becoming interested in the family businesses, but when her husband José (Lautaro Murúa) makes fun of her sudden interest, she finds a lover named Patricio (Federico Luppi), who eventually leaves her, accentuating her sense of loneliness. As she attempts to make changes in her life, she finds that her mother, mother-in-law, and church, all stress her maternal and lady-like roles at the expense of her personal fulfillment. Fina falls in love again, which finally seems to give new direction to her life, only (p.58) to find out that her new lover was her dead friend’s paramour. Thus, she thought she was liberating herself in choosing sexual pleasure, but she was inadvertently following in her friend’s foosteps. While screenwriter María Luisa Bemberg was not satisfied with the results of de la Torre’s portrayal of Fina, Crónica constitutes a crucial film that not only continues the line of Juan Lamaglia y señora but also, and more importantly, displays the concern about the plight of women that would be a constant in Bemberg’s cinematic oeuvre.

Table 7: The Most Successful Films in Argentina 1970–1972

Film

Country

Spectators

El santo de la espada (1970)

Argentina

2,601,036

Gitano (1970)

Argentina

1,627,720

El profesor patagónico (1970)

Argentina

1,576,903

Argentinisíma (1972)

Argentina

1,552,350

Love Story (1970)

United States

1,502,219

Z (1970)

France

1,451,610

Siempre te amaré (1971)

Argentina

1,399,971

Source: ‘Lo que se recaudó,’ El heraldo, 21 May 1973: 169.

In 1972, several popular films touched on Argentine history and its geography. Juan Manuel de Rosas (Manuel Antín), which narrates the life of the Buenos Aires leader during the 1829–1852 period, will be analyzed in Section III, and La maffia [The Mafia] (Leopoldo Torre Nilsson). The latter, based on the story of the Galiffi family, who operated in Rosario in the 1920s, received four Silver Condor awards: Best Director (Torre Nilsson), Best Actress (Thelma Biral), Best Supporting Actor (Héctor Alterio), and Best Film. Despite these awards, El heraldo gave the film an eight for artistic value, due to the weakness of the script in depicting the relationships between criminals and the authorities and the accumulation of anecdotes stretching the plot, but it gave a ten—its highest score for a commercial film—for Alfredo Alcon’s participation, the name recognition of Torre Nilsson, and scenes of violence and sex (A.E.O., 1972, 110). For its part, Heroína (Raúl de la Torre), based on the life of a young woman (Graciela Borges) who is psychoanalyzed, had a strong performance at the box office, with over 78,000 spectators in the first week. Heroína did better than De la Torre’s third film, Crónica de una señora, with more than 1,000 viewers in the same period (‘Heroína,’ 1972, 214). For Adolfo Martínez, in Heroína, de la Torre showed that he was a careful observer of the Argentine upper middle class (2010, non. pag.).22 Finally, Argentinísima, an Aries production that mixed folk songs from different parts of Argentina also performed well at the box office.

(p.59) As Table 7 shows, in the early 1970s, four Argentine films not only performed exceedingly well, surpassing 1.5 million viewers, but also outdid a Hollywood blockbuster, Love Story (Arthur Hiller). Nonetheless, at the beginning of 1973, the NIC authorities drafted a new cinema law just before the military authorities were replaced by democratic civil government.

Notes:

(1) The example given was a film whose NIC-approved production costs ran to 13,933,746 pesos and which received a loan of 6,966,873 pesos. With box office takings of 95,422,690 pesos, it received a percentage of its earnings which amounted to 19,084,538 pesos (‘Nueva ley 19,655,’ 1966, 398).

(2) Héctor Olivera stated that Hotel Alojamiento’s box office takings amounted to 140 million pesos (‘1967 puede ser,’ 1967, 16).

(3) The film competed at the San Sebastián Film Festival but did not receive any awards.

(4) El romance was produced and distributed by Renacimiento Films, owned by Walter Achúgar who, together with Edgardo Pallero, sought to create an alternative circuit of distribution (Campo, 2010, 68).

(5) The Mar del Plata Film Festival was the venue in which co-productions were discussed.

(6) In 1966, the romantic musical comedy Mi primera novia [My First Girl Friend], directed by Enrique Carreras and shot in color, was very popular. The film, starring actor-singer Palito Ortega, American actor Dean Reed, and actress Evangelina Salazar, gave the film industry reason for optimism. An editorial highlighted Ortega’s charisma and fame: ‘Ya con categoría de astro, gravitará definitivamente para la obtención del presunto éxito. Su popularidad se mantiene, especialmente entre la gente joven. Es, en consecuencia, una figura que por sí misma puede determinar el destino de un filme’ [Already a star, he will definitely gravitate toward obtaining a presumed success. His popularity holds up, particularly among young people. He is, consequently, a figure who by himself can determine the fate of a film] (‘Mi primera,’ 1966, 19).

(7) En la selva no hay estrellas received an award at the Moscow Film Festival.

(8) El muerto was finally released in 1975 as Cacique Bandeira [Bandeira Chief] and was a Spanish-Argentine co-production.

(9) In an interview with El mundo on March 9, 1966, Torre Nilsson admitted ‘es una fórmula para romper fronteras con el cine nacional’ [it is a formula to cross borders with national cinema] (Couselo, 1985, 173).

(10) Monday’s Girl represented Argentina at Cannes in 1967.

(11) In 1967, a news telegram from London anticipated that Leopoldo Torre Nilsson would direct The White Witch of Rose Hall, a film that would begin shooting in Jamaica with a budget of $3 million. The book by Derek Pousek was a biography of Annie Palmer.

(12) The other commercial hits of 1968 were: Un muchacho como yo (Enrique Carreras, Sono), Psexoanálisis (Hector Oliveira, Aries), Lo prohibido está (p.60) de moda [Forbidden Things are In Fashion] (Fernando Siro, European), the Spanish-Argentine co-production Digan lo que digan [Let Them Talk] (Mario Camus, Sono and Spain), and Cochecama-alojamiento [Car-bed Lodging] (Julio Porter, Sono).

(13) In June, La hora [The Hour] was presented at the Pesaro Film Festival.

(14) A summary in El heraldo mentioned that two American representatives sought the approval of 200 films. Even though the matter was also discussed in the Chancellery, the NIC only approved 90 for the film board and 20 American films (“1968 fue,” 1968, 592).

(15) La fiaca, Ricardo Talesnik’s first play, was a huge success, winning the Argentores Award and was performed in Uruguay, Chile, and Spain.

(16) The film was based on a short story by Favio’s brother, Zuhair Jury, and was made without NIC funding.

(17) Don Segundo Sombra was not nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, given that this selection would have stopped it participating in other film festivals—and Don Segundo was ‘la carta del cine argentino para Cannes este año’ [Argentina’s cinematic card for Cannes for this year] (‘No va,’ 1970, 45).

(18) In an editorial from January of 1970, La gaceta informed readers that the reception of Antín’s film saw ‘elogiosas crónicas aparecidas en publicaciones madrileñas’ [admiring reviews in publications in Madrid] (‘Continúan,’ 1970, 2).

(19) The film’s success was evident from its release in France. A note in El heraldo mentioned that Invasión received ‘críticas favorables, algunas sumamente elogiosas’ [positive reviews, some highly complimentary] (‘Hugo Santiago,’ 1971, 69).

(20) Argentino generated anxiety about its historical rendition of the Paraguayan War. In February 1971, before its release, the board of the Institute of Cofraternity José Félix Bogado asked the Argentine government to supervise the shooting of the historical scenes so that ‘ningún factor negativo interfiera en las excelentes relaciones entre los pueblos hermanos’ [nothing negative interferes with the excellent relations among sibling nations] (‘Susceptibles,’ 1971, 70). Months later, El heraldo referred to an editorial piece that appeared in La nación concerning the state support of the film and its ideological subtext (‘Un extraño,’ 1971, 252).

(21) King et al. explained that in the late 1960s, Bemberg sent a play, that would be the basis for the script of Crónica, to a competition organized by La nación (‘An Argentine,’ 2000, 15–16).

(22) For an analysis of the role of psychoanalysis in Heroína, please see Maren Ahlzweig’s ‘Imágenes de la psiquiatría y la locura en el cine argentino de los años 70 y 80.’