A Look into Argentine Film

(Apenas un Delincuente-1949. Photo from lacteoslalucia)

The Argentine film industry is one of the most developed in Latin America and dates back to 1897, 80 years after the Argentina independence and not long after the birth of cinematography. This early incorporation of film into the local culture has been fortunate as it has left behind documentation of the city’s development, issues and identity due to the common thematic of Argentine films, mostly centered around local customs, literature and social conflicts.

Immigrants, indigenous people, the birth of tango, gaucho heroes, labor issues, local literary adaptations, peronism, dictatorships, present subject matter of Buenos Aires, portraits of people from the South and North of Argentina, and descriptions of a stagnated society are all themes of many films the country has produced and been awarded for, including two Oscars for best foreign films (La Historia Oficial 1986-Luis Puenzo and El Secreto de Sus Ojos 2010- Juan Jose Campanella).

For a closer look at local film the Pablo Ducros Hickens Film Museum in La Boca, has recently reopened and showcases equipment and antique optical artifacts, props, set designs, costumes, screenplays, awards, objects, photographs, and other documentation relating to the local industry.  They are also working with the Carlos Gardel Museum where current and old tango films with English subtitles are exhibited each Monday at 6.30pm- Address- Jean Jaurés 735, Abasto.

The San Martín Theatre and the MALBA also exhibit retrospectives and local independent films.

Buenos Aires Notable Bars

(Photo by Mellagi)

This week one of the city’s traditional cafes, the Richmond on Florida Avenue, was saved from becoming a sporting goods store. Belonging to the city’s group of 54 ºBares Notables”  the emblematic coffee shop, which has been  frequented by renowned artists, authors and political figures, was declared a historic monument. Active participants of the city’s bustling cafe life will be gathering today at 4pm to give Confitería Richmond a “hug” and enjoy a rainy afternoon of warm drinks and conversations.

The Richmond, isn’t the only “Bar Notable” to have been at the verge of disappearing, and in fact, some, like El Molino, no longer exist. Thankfully, many others do, and have become a valued part of the city. The history and the elegance of their marble and mirrors, of their white clad waiters and dark wooden furniture,  makes sitting in these bars for a break over “cafe con medialunas”  an afternoon must. Below is our pick of top notable bars.

 

Most Popular- Cafe Tortoni

Cafe Tortoni is the oldest  and most famous of the city’s traditional bars. Frequented by celebrities, politicians, locals and tourists alike, who come for coffee, history, live shows or a game of pool, fill the large lavish parlors with a special livelihood. Just a few blocks away is Cafe Los 36 Billares. Also worth visiting.

 

Most Charming- Petit Colon

Just two blocks away from the Colon Theatre and across Plaza Lavalle is the distinguished Petit Colon, a notable bar catering to an elegant crowd of theatre regulars. The ornate wallpaper and the luminous afternoon windows dote this cafe with a special charm making it the perfect place to start the evening before heading to the stately Colon Theatre.

 

For Hot Chocolate with Churros- La Giralda

A warm alternative to coffee and medialunas for winter days is hot chocolate with churros. The traditional version of hot chocolate is the “Submarino” in which you dunk a bar of chocolate into a glass of hot milk until it melts. The best place to do this is La Giralda on Av. Corrientes, or, the nearby El Gato Negro, which also boasts a large variety of spices and coffee varieties.

 

For 5 O Clock Tea- Las Violetas

An assortment of cakes, sweets and sandwiches are served on silver plates in this stunning teahouse in the Almagro neighborhood. Golden chandeliers, Italian marble floors, and stained glass windows decorate Las Violetas, a unique place to indulge your sweet tooth.

 

For Barrio Tango Spirit-Lo de Roberto

Although tango is present in most notable bars, Lo de Roberto in Almagro has an authentic feel to its late night tango gatherings in which the crowds actively participate whilst drinking beers.  Close by is another small traditional bar worth visiting, El Banderin, which has its walls covered in football flags from different times and places.

 

For Late Nights- Bar El Federal

In the heart of San Telmo, Bar El Federal is a daytime bar that becomes a lively pub in the evenings when the crowds come for a typical Fernet and some dancing. The stunning bar has a wooden arch with vitraux  details and a stopped clock immediately capturing ones attention and is an inviting place for people watching and a drink or two.

 

We Recommend: A Trip Down the A-Line

(Photo by cyph3r)

The ride begins at the Plaza de Mayo Station, at the A-Line subway that’s at the heart of the historical district, below the emblematic Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada. The picturesque wagons that date back to 1913 still preserve the wooden seating, dim lights and manually operated doors immediately taking both the locals and visitors to another time.  The first stop on the historic path is the Peru Station, which was renovated to look like it did in the 1900´s and keeps its ticket booths as well as displaying evocative black and white pictures of the subways path, where once, each station had a different colored mural on its walls so that the illiterate would know when to get off. The Subway continues through Avenida de Mayo where the historical Casa de la Cultura and Traditional Cafes such as Tortoni and Los 36 Billares can be visited. It then crosses the 9 de Julio Avenue, after Avenida de Mayo station, riding into Rivadavia Avenue where you can find the Congress above Congreso station before passing though ghost stations Alberti and Pasco. These two stations were so close to each other that they were closed down in 1951 and it is rumored that when the lights go out it is possible to see passengers from those times still waiting for the train.   Further down the line above Castro Barros Station is gorgeous teahouse Las Violetas, which dates back to 1884 and serves assorted platters of cakes and sandwiches. Finally, close to the Rio de Janeiro Station is Parque Centenario, a large park that was opened in 1910 to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Argentine Independence. The subway then continues up to Primera Junta which was the original end of the circuit and through to the recently added Puan and Carabobo stations. A map of the Buenos Aires subway lines is available here.

 

Our tip: Avoid the subway during rush hours (8-9.30AM and 6-8PM) or as an old local expression says, you will be riding like a sardine in a can!

Must See in Buenos Aires #6: Casa Rosada Tour

(Casa Rosada by Elton Melo)

Originally built as fort in 1594, the Casa Rosada, or Pink House, is one the city’s most emblematic buildings both because of its striking appearance and because it is the government headquarters.

During Domingo Sarmientos presidency the eye catching structure was painted pink, it is said, as a symbol of unity between the red and white colors of the Unitarians and Federals who fought against each other during the civil war.

Throughout the many political upheavals, the pink house has always been a place where the people have gathered and manifested and where the action has appeared to take place.  The famous Evita speeches, the declaration of war against the Falkland islands were made public on its now famous balcony and many celebrations and riots have taken place in the small plaza facing the government building.

The stunning architecture, unique memorabilia and historic and political importance of this landmark make it a definite must see.  Free tours of the Casa Rosada are offered on weekends from 10am-6pm starting at the main entrance facing the plaza.

Off the Beaten Path: Museo Casa de Yrurtia

(Canto al Trabajo- Rogelio Yrurtia by puroticorico)

Once the home of sculptor Rogelio Yrurtia, this beautiful colonial house displays his belongings including interesting objects, textiles (which he collected) and ceramics, many from China, Japan, Holland and Java, a collection of Argentine paintings, and many of his own sculptures and sketches of some of the city monuments which he was responsible for. Amongst the monuments you may have seen whilst walking through the city are  “Canto al trabajo” on Paseo Colon and Independencia in San Telmo, “Justicia” in the Tribunales Palace, and Monument to Coronel Dorrego on Suipacha and Viamonte amongst others.

Museo Casa de Yrurtia

O Higgins 2390, Belgrano

4781-0385

Opening hours: Tue-Fri 1pm-7pm, Sat-Sun 3pm-7pm. Closed on national holidays.

Tango: An Immigrant Song

(Tango picture in La Boca by doug88888)

The birth of tango was very clearly the product of the country’s peculiar immigration pattern which had its first big boom in the late 1800´s.

After Rosas downfall in the Caseros battle in 1852 a new constitution was formed in which immigration was encouraged by offering benefits to foreigners who would populate the land and serve as qualified labor, introducing science and art into the culture.  Contrary however to the governments expectation, the immigration that arrived was mostly poor and uninstructed and populated the city, rather than spreading out to the rural areas where the country most needed labor.

To counteract this effect, president Avellaneda passed an immigration and land law that guaranteed the distribution of small parcels of land to immigrants. This served the additional purpose of preventing the formation of large estates belonging to a select few. The measure however didn’t play out as expected given that the large Patagonia area taken from the indigenous people in the Conquest of the Desert, ended up belonging to a few owners who became very powerful.

Although there were many job opportunities in agriculture, the opportunity for land ownership was no longer there.  This became a source of frustration for the immigrants who had come expecting their own piece of land. In return, they stayed in the city periphery living a life of poverty, despair and nostalgia, and constantly in touch with immigrants from other cultures who they coexisted with in the crowded conventillos.

The combination of these feelings of uprooting and loss present in the new society combined with the cultural mixture that was beginning to take place is at the root of tango. The cries of the Andalusian tango (a branch of flamenco), combined with the Cuban habanera, the schottische, the local folkloric music and African candombe came together in one of the most distinctive music genres of Argentina. With its unique language (lunfardo) and its recurrent themes of the arrabal (neighborhood), disillusion and loss, time, sensuality and sadness, it has become a reflection of the characteristic nostalgic local identity.

Off the Beaten Path: Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernandez Blanco

(photo by sebastian-dario)

A Neocolonial building with a beautiful Spanish style courtyard houses the Isaac Fernandez Blanco collection of Hispanic-American art.  An impressive display of antique and religious objects, furniture, silver, and paintings dating back to the 1700´s are sure to take you back to a key historic moment where two very different cultures colided to define what South America is today.
Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday from 2pm-6pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12am-6pm. English tours must be booked in advance.

Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernandez Blanco
Suipacha 1422, Downtown
4327- 0228

English Tours
4327-0272.
mifb_educativa@buenosaires.gob.ar