Paris of South America

April 14, 2014 More

We noticed immediately that the city of Buenos Aires looks very much like Paris, turns out there’s a good reason. Back in the 1920s Buenos Aires city planners were embarking on a grand design for the architecture of their city, and Paris was the shinning example of the that era, so BA planners actually hired Paris architects to create the look of their city.  But, on to the festival we went to.

BAFICI (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente) is held every year in April, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Unlike the other festivals where we’ve presented UPA programs, BAFICI is a total film festival, not just animation, a huge event, bigger than anything we’d been to before.  In fact, BAFICI rarely shows animation, certainly not animated shorts, so our few events of UPAs animated shorts were dwarfed by the massive number of events at that festival, around 200, almost entirely live-action features.  However, because animation is so rare at their festival, we got a lot of attention.

The opening night of BAFICI’s UPA programs were introduced by the American Embassy in Buenos Aires, an honor never accorded us before.  We had four film programs of UPA theatricals, three shorts programs and a rare screening of UPAs first feature, 1001 Arabian Nights.  Each program was shown twice, introduced by Tee Bosustow, and followed by a Q&A, with the tireless help of translator, Isabelle Siegrist.  Late in the festival there was a Round Table discussion with Argentine film experts, including Leonardo d´Esposito and Juan Miguel Dominguez.  Silvina Cornillón, our Argentine documentary crew member, was an incredible help down there, helping at most screenings, and designing and printing a promotional hand-out, with characters by Brazilian crew member, Fernando Ferriera Garroz.  It was put out on festival promotional tables, as well as given out before and after each presentation.

Bafici 2A first for us was a major exhibition called “UPA Gems”, one image of which can be seen above, it exhibited rare UPA archival treasures, and was a grand success, presenting a bigger and better UPA museum-like experience than anyone we’re aware of has seen since New York City’s Museum of Modern Art honored UPA in 1951, in fact, that was the first time MoMA had featured the art of any animation studio before.  Three feature articles were published in Argentine newspapers and magazine about our UPA presentations, and one described the exhibition this way … Festival goers who visited the “UPA Gems” exhibition in Sala Cronopios in the Recoleta Cultural Center were able to see hundreds of UPA treasures that hadn’t been seen for 50 years or more.

Steve Bosustow, who headed UPA from the early 1940s to the end of the 1950s, was in the midst of writing a book about UPA, but died before he was able to finish it.  His collection of letters, articles, press releases, photographs, posters, and personal notes on things he wanted to include in his book, often surprising materials which offer an inside look at the workings of UPA during its heyday, lay dormant in dozens of boxes, gathering dust, until just recently, when BAFICI offered to exhibit them for their festival goers, and the Argentine public.

And, now for a little giggle, one of the light moments of the trip, when Bosustow felt he had to try out the tango while in Argentina.  He never even came close to mastering it.  The shot above makes it look like he did, but in reality it was a tourist trap, a still photo with a limber tango dancer.

Category: Festivals