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November 6 - November 8

No Man’s Land – The Cinema of Lisandro Alonso

Few directors today possess the fortitude of vision and resolute commitment to an ideal of formally rigorous narrative cinema of Argentine filmmaker Lisandro Alonso (b. 1975), one of the most accomplished and original artists working in contemporary Latin American cinema. Alonso’s four films – La Libertad (2001), Los Muertos (2004), Liverpool (2008) and the featurette Fantasma (2006) – have renewed the promise of the nuevo cine argentino of the 1990s by turning away from the decidedly mainstream direction subsequently taken by many of that movement’s more prominent directors and towards a mode of radically minimalist cinema that bends traditions of both documentary and narrative film. Meditative and melancholy, Alonso’s films offer lyrical variations on the theme of solitude, with each of his three features haunted by the enigma of lonely wanderers drifting with deliberate but unstated purpose through remote hinterlands – the endless pampas in La Libertad, the teeming jungle in Los Muertos, the frigid snow country of Tierra del Fuego archipelago in Liverpool. The sensorial detail evoked by the films’ desolate settings – and captured by Alonso’s exquisitely choreographed 35mm cinematography – marks a powerful contrast to their deeply interiorized protagonists, an elemental tactility of heat and cold and wind and stars that gives Alonso’s cinema the mysterious lucidity of a waking dream. Richly abstract, the films of Alonso’s tetralogy of loneliness are anchored by the weight and mystery of their remarkable non-professional actors and by the almost fable-like dimension of Alonso’s stark and mesmerizing tales.

The Harvard Film Archive is pleased and proud to welcome one of the rising stars of contemporary world cinema for his first visit to the Boston area.

Special thanks: David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies; Josè Barriga, Boston Latino Film Festival; Brad Epps; Adam Sekuler, Northwest Film Forum; Anne Götze, Match Factory.


Special Event Tickets $12
Friday November 6 at 7pm

Los Muertos

Directed by Lisandro Alonso, Appearing in Person
With Argentino Vargas, Francisco Dornez
Argentina 2004, 35mm, color, 73 min. Spanish with English subtitles

A haunting trance film structured around the enigmatic journey of a newly released convict through the sweltering heart of the jungle, Los Muertos reveals Alonso’s uncanny power to engage and open the viewer’s imagination through the subtlest of means. Alonso’s extraordinary second feature evokes Point Blank (1968) with its hypnagogic, deadpan thriller of a phantasmagorical hunter tormented by the specter of his past. In Los Muertos’ bravura opening sequence – a soaring traveling camera gliding through the jungle over fallen, lifeless bodies – Alonso announces the dream logic that shrouds the film in mystery and pushes beyond the documentary fiction defined by his first film, La Libertad, while also refining the richly detailed observational mode of the early work.

Fantasma

Directed by Lisandro Alonso, Appearing in Person
With Argentino Vargas, Misael Saavedra
Argentina 2006, 35mm, color, 63 min. Spanish with English subtitles

Alsonso offers an offbeat and wonderfully bizarre commentary on his singular filmmaking practice in his self-reflexive featurettewhich finds Argentino Vargas, the star of Los Muertos,wandering through the Teatro San Martin- the Buenos Aires home theater of the Cinemateca Argentina- in search of the film’s premiere. As Alonso’s camera slowly floats through the shadowy bowels of the building, striping bare the dingy backstage of the cultural apparatus, Fantasma offers a spirited commentary on the theatricality of even the most rigorously non-professional performance and of the cinematic ritual itself.

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Special Event Tickets $12
Saturday November 7 at7pm

Liverpool

Directed by Lisandro Alonso, Appearing in Person
With Nieves Cabrera, Giselle Irrazabal
Argentina 2008, 35mm, color, 84 min. Spanish with English subtitles

Alonso’s latest feature once again follows a lonely traveler in search of his past, a brooding seaman who, like Ulysses, returns to his native land after years at sea, yearning for home and family. A film of infrequent words and profound gestures, Liverpool offers a snow-blinded and poetic variation of the Western, a meditation on the perils and, perhaps, obscure pleasures of drifting without direction or claim to land. Alonso’s careful distillation of narrative somehow both abstracts and intensifies the film’s emotional register, balancing its existential fable with a dark, bleak humor. Alonso’s camera finds a new freedom in Liverpool, choreographing beautiful long takes and driven by a searching energy that often leads it away from the purported focus of the story to point towards other worlds waiting to be discovered.

S/T

Directed by Lisandro Alonso, Appearing in Person
Argentina 2009, 35mm, color, 1 min.

A one-minute “trailer” commissioned by the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema.

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Special Event Tickets $12
Sunday November 8 at 7pm

La Libertad

Directed by Lisandro Alonso, Appearing in Person
With Misael Saavedra, Humberto Estrada, Rafael Estrada
Argentina 2001, 35mm, color, 73 min. Spanish with English subtitles

Alonso’s brilliantly understated debut follows a day in the life of a migrant woodcutter totally absorbed in his ceaseless labor and the sun-bleached pampas where he works in unmitigated solitude. A poetic meditation on labor and landscape, La Libertad finds both tranquility and menacing shadows in the vast and animate wilderness unfolded within it. The documentary undercurrent of Alonso’s cinema finds its fullest expression in his vivid yet cryptically restraint portrait of Misael Saavedra, an actual woodsman, and in the film’s patient attention to the rich sounds and textures of the world defined by the young man’s ritualized work. Alonso’s most openly allegorical work, La Libertad subtly questions the “freedom” and identity alternately gained and lost by the daily burden of hard labor.

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