May 24, 2009

sábado @ MALBA

Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires 

As a special favor, Fernando Peña projected some rarities from private collections. The main attraction was a set of amateur films shot in 1930 by an aristocratic family in Buenos Aires. Fernando set up a 9.5mm projector in the booth and projected some of the footage onto the big screen.  (Certainly the largest 9.5mm image I've seen.)  

Along with portraits of the filmmaker's wife and daughters, there were extensive scenes of a group of men golfing and a sequence of the landing and departure of a very large German zeppelin.  But the most significant footage was in scenes shot at the time of Argentina's first military coup. The filmmaker was obviously an admirer and intimate of the fascist junta. His camera gains close access to the car parading the victorious generals and takes informal portaits of soldiers happily greeting the filmmaker on the day of the coup.  We see a few Mussolinist full arm salutes.  

The film has intertitles and even an animated closing title card (paint on glass spellling F-I-N), superimposed over a long shot of the Plaza del Mayo. An additional reel shows the victory parade, replete with heavy artillery on display, the following day.  

Fernando told us that a local collector acquired these 9.5mm films among a larger lot of materials he purchased at an estate sale. All of the family members seen in the pictures, as well as the filmmaker-father, reportedly died in a single car crash six years after the films were taken. Hence, orphan films in a tragically literal sense.