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La Ciénaga

(The Swamp)
Argentina 2001. Dir: Lucrecia Martel. 101 min. DCP

“A small masterpiece ... Every shot is dense with life.”
MEREDITH BRODY, CHICAGO READER

Few debuts this century have announced the emergence of a truly original film artist with such clarity and confidence as La Ciénaga, the exceptional first feature by Lucrecia Martel. A rumination on race, class, gender, and the spectre of Argentina’s colonial past, the film glimpses the lives of an extended bourgeois family on holiday, sojourning at their dank, decrepit rural estate in the sweltering highlands of Salta, the writer-director’s home province. The parents, in a perpetual drunken stupor, engage in petty domestic dramas while making racist accusations against the indigenous help. The constellation of kids, meanwhile, explore the nearby marshes, swimming holes, and city, the air of impending violence and promiscuity palpable. Martel evokes an experiential, almost haptic sense of place using off-screen sound and off-kilter framing to uncanny effect. Named the best Latin American film of the decade in a polled conducted by Cinema Tropical.


— preceded by —

 

 

 

 

Dead King
(Rey muerto)

Argentina 1995. Dir: Lucrecia Martel. 12 min. DCP

Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch is given a feminist retooling in Martel’s auspicious short film, one of the inaugural works of the New Argentine Cinema. Courtesy of Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales.

 

REVIEWS

"La Ciénaga perspires from the screen, it creates a vision of social malaise that feels paradoxically familiar and new."

New York Times | full review

"A brilliant debut ... Lucrecia Martel’s La Ciénaga is a veritable Chekhov tragicomedy of provincial life."

Village Voice | full review