Benjamín Naishtat presents his film El movimiento in the Argentine Competition; an original tale of historic revisionism, social criticism, with remarkable performances and a flawless script. An interesting view on Argentine history, where light, chiaroscuro and close-ups are the true protagonists. El movimiento invites us to reflect upon our past, our present and the amazing narrative forms of cinema.
Where did the idea of El Movimiento come from?
I’ve been working on historical subjects for different productions. In 2011 I made an experimental video, Historia del Mal, where I recreated the 1879 Conquest of the Dessert, in the city of General Roca, Río Negro, and then I interviewed the local extras to know what they thought about the history of land distribution. El Movimiento came up when I developed an interest for the period of the Mazorcaor Sociedad Restauradora, that is, a force of political clash that was created in a time of crisis during Rosas’ government by mid-1930s. Then, the film is devoid of any specific reference and has a lot of allegories, trying not to be tied to specific characters of facts from history.
It seems a real challenge to create different atmospheres with only close-ups, lighting and chiaroscuro. You accomplished great results. What were the technical decisions you made to achieve it?
We worked with little electric lighting, a lot of fire was used, we tried to avoid specific stagings. That being said, certain obstacles, like the wind, forced us to drop initial ideas of fireballs, limiting our possibilities. But since we shot a huge part of the film in close-ups, we were able to control the general aspect we were looking for, also thanks to the cinematography by Soledad Rodríguez.
How was the historical research and how did you put that into the script?
I was advised by a historian, Milena Acosta, and I consulted a lot of bibliography, also visiting the Centro de Estudios Juan Manuel de Rosas and places such as the Museo del Círculo Militar for technical issues such as the use of war cannons in that time. The script fed off different sources, always keeping in mind the desire to have absurd shades linked to the present.
Even though the film is set in 1835 Argentina, at the time of the Confederacy, what it shows could have happened in a different time and place. How did you work on that?
The film has a sort of timeless feeling but it is not an achievement of the film itself but rather of Argentine History, absolutely cyclic and wrapped up in the same old debates since the May Revolution. It is up to the audience to establish those relationships and draw their own conclusions. It is a film that asks questions but does not give any answers.
The performances, the close-ups, the subtle gestures are extremely powerful and eloquent. How did you work that with the actors?
We had limited time of rehearsal, but we worked with amazing actors, headed by the huge Pablo Cedrón. First we discussed History, we went over the context; then we rehearsed the scenes focusing on the technicalities, thus is, the way of speaking, the gestures, the horse rides, trying to achieve realism for those period aspects. The extras from the town of Carhué also contributed a lot; they were very devoted to the work and some of them had enormous talent for acting, like a young man who appears in the last third of the film.
SUN 1, 10.20 am, ALD 5
SUN 1, 9.40 pm, ALD 5
MON 2, 4.00 pm, ALD 5