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October 11 - October 13

Three Films by Lucrecia Martel

A founding member of the New Argentine Cinema that surged to international prominence in the mid-1990s, Lucrecia Martel (1966- ) is a dominant figure in contemporary world cinema and one of its great stylists. In her three features Martel has defined a marvelously elliptical style, a subtle narrative minimalism in which sound and gesture are often richer in meaning than the spoken word. Indeed, the complex, multi-layered sound tracks shared by La Ciénaga, La niña santa and The Headless Woman provide a nuance and tension that transforms the films into deeply immersive experiences.

One important trait uniting the group of young film school graduates who led the nuevo cine argentino, including Martel, is a fascination with “the local”— an overriding interest in those regions (often within Buenos Aires itself), vernacular languages and social classes typically overlooked by mainstream cinema. The object of Martel’s fascination has always been Salta, the tropical northern province where she was born and raised and where all of her films are set. More than just an exotic setting, the region has a rich story-telling tradition that inspires Martel’s oblique and often circular narratives and the obscure rhythms of her films. And yet, the Salta represented in Martel’s films can also be described as a psychological and emotional state—the source of the vivid, elemental texture of sounds and colors that seems to guide the acute sensory awareness shared by her heroines.

In her three films about young women, each increasingly older, each increasingly—even obsessively—in tune with their immediate environment, Martel has proposed an alternate, abstract mode of melodrama that traces the fragile and fugitive patterns of directionless love, accidents and unexplained violence. Seen together, Martel’s Salta trilogy stands as a high point of contemporary Latin American cinema.

We are pleased to announce that Lucrecia Martel will be joining us for two evenings of discussion about her work and career.

Special thanks to Brad Epps.


Director in Person
Saturday October 11 at 7pm

la cienagaLa Ciénaga (The Swamp)

Directed by Lucrecia Martel, Appearing in Person
With Mercedes Morán, Graciela Borges, Martín Adjemián
Argentina 2001, 35mm, color, 103 min. Spanish with English subtitles
Print from New Yorker Films

Martel’s remarkably accomplished debut feature unfurls vivid, contrasting portraits of two branches of the same gnarled family tree—one locked in an inexorable decline and the other struggling to survive – both living near La Ciénaga, the town whose name stands as the film’s central metaphor. The bravura opening of the film releases a controlled rush of richly orchestrated sounds and sensorially evocative images— ice, aged flesh, thunder, blood—that immediately reveals the masterful control of mood and rhythm which Martel exerts throughout the film. Told in a distinctly observational mode of narrative, Martel’s film seems almost plotless, a wandering spotlight that focuses selectively upon the flawed and fragile characters depicted by its incredible ensemble cast, led by 1960s and 1970s matinee star Graciela Borges as the possessive, alcoholic matriarch.

audio from evening Listen to this evening's introduction, discussion and Q&A.

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Special Event Tickets $10
Sunday October 12 at 7pm

maria alche in the holy girlLa niña santa (The Holy Girl)

Directed by Lucrecia Martel, Appearing in Person
With Mercedes Morán, Carlos Belloso, Maria Alché
Argentina 2004, 35mm, color, 106 min. Spanish with English subtitles
Print from New Yorker Films

In her mesmerizing follow-up to La Ciénaga, Martel offers an alternately dark and playful allegory about religion, desire and familial guilt focused on two mischievous girls unable to distinguish between their spiritual and sexual yearnings. Martel’s meticulous attention to sound is elevated to a major theme of La niña santa, which uses its extraordinarily subtle soundtrack to explore the ineffable, musical texture of voice and the fallibility of language. Set largely within a hotel, where a group of ear, nose and throat doctors have gathered for their annual conference, La niña santa transforms the accidental triangle that emerges between a girl, a promiscuous doctor and her mother into a fascinating prism of refracted, contradictory desire.

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Special Event Tickets $10
Monday Ocotber 13 at 7pm

still from the headless womanThe Headless Woman (La mujer sin cabeza)

Directed by Lucrecia Martel.
With María Onetto, Claudia Cantero, César Bordón
Argentina 2008, 35mm, color, 87 min. Spanish with English subtitles

The mysterious and austere final installment of Martel’s Salta trilogy moves away from the layered narratives of her earlier films to adopt the intense, almost hallucinatory, first-person perspective of a successful dentist uncertain of her responsibility for a hit-and-run accident that may or may not have taken place. In tune with the heroine’s intense post-traumatic state, The Headless Woman lingers on the puzzling clues that emerge in a miasma of guilt and denial that gradually implicates everyone around her. Martel’s characteristically minimal story is also her darkest and most explicitly political statement, offering a pointed critique of class inequity and bourgeois indifference.

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