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SOUTH

Argentina, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Fernando E. Solanas

Winner of the prize for Best Director in Cannes last year, South confirms Fernando Solanas's reputation as one of Latin America's greatest filmmakers. A companion piece to his aching portrait of exile, Tangos: The Exile of Gardel (1985), the new film charts the agony of a return to Argentina after a period of imprisonment. It also marks a return to Argentina for Solanas himself: (this is his first film shot in Argentina in over ten years and this reconciliation with the past ties at the heart of South).

A man, imprisoned for subversive activities, is released after five years in jail. Desperate to see his wife after years of separation, Florcal must undergo a nocturnal reckoning with the past — a long night's journey into day — before his emotional reunion can occur. As Floreal wanders the streets of Buenos Aires, exhilarated by his freedom, a series of images appear before his eyes.

These memories are sculptured like velvet dreams, where the sad memories of the tango waft around the fringes of dimly remembered incidents and people, half-hallucinated in the gloom of the night. These ghosts from the past evoke the history of the dreams of Argentina.

Suggestive and sensual, the poetics of South make this film a deeply humanistic and probing portrait of the collective memory of modem Argentina, and indeed any country which has known repression.

After the purely agit-prop The Hour of the Furnaces and his writings on political cinema in the late 60s (eg. Cinema As Gun), Solanas has become, slowly, painstakingly, an original filmmaker whose recent work is imbued with a great delight in the language of cinema, a quality as unusual as it is rewarding.

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