María Álvarez, Argentina, 2017, 74'
International Premiere
Friday August 4th, 11.00, Cinema Teatro Kursaal
Saturday August 5th, 18.30, L'altra Sala

en / it / de / fr

Representing the passing of time has always been – and continues to be – a major concern for many artists. Argentinian filmmaker María Alvarez makes her contribution by exploring this theme through the lens of cinematic arts. Armed with her camera, she recorded the daily lives of film-lovers in three countries: Argentina, Uruguay and Spain. The outcome, Las Cinéphilas, is a documentary anthology that draws up a portrait of women who do not know each other but share a common passion.

Through memories and cinematic references, the protagonists tell us about their habits, thoughts and the places that define their lives, all the while surprising us with their clear-headedness and the way they look at their own life stories. As a result, the exploration of an all-consuming hobby can disconcertingly turn into the unearthing of a hidden sadness. That is exactly what happens to Lucía when she explains why she loves Akira Kurosawa so much, and more specifically his film Madadayo (1993). Other, more subtle references playfully allow for great complicity between film enthusiasts: wooed by the sight of the setting sun on Paloma’s balcony, the viewers find themselves looking for the much sought-after green ray from Éric Rohmer’s movie.

But make no mistake: María Alvarez never celebrates the pleasures of cinephilia with blinkers on. She does not hide the fact that her protagonists feel the need to enjoy escapist fare and are often lonely – torments some of them discuss openly –, tackles the very sensitive topic of old age, and paints a canvas on which the tragic fate and scars of these women can be perceived. The tragicomic scenes (about a husband whose face is crossed out on all the pictures, or about the portrait of Jeremy Irons passing for that of a character’s spouse) remind us how easy it can be to lose oneself in fictions.

In a way, Las Cinéphilas resurrects the social role cinemas used to fulfil. They were places where people could meet, and share with the same fervour Sunday getaways, laughs, artistic emotions or first kisses. That is also what María Alvarez’s film is about: to experience once more the joys this endangered way of sharing could bring.

Loïc Valceschini