Skip to main content

Notes from the Reel World: The Board President's Column Part II, September 1996

By Clara Zappettini

In the beginning, there was the documentary, the cinematographic evangelist. Argentinean cinema did not escape this origin. The Lumière brothers' historic and The Departure of the Lighting Factory Worker and The Arrival of the Train at the Vincennes Station have their contemporary local equivalents in The Hoisting of the Flag and The Arrival of the President of Brazil (1900), made by the photographer Eugenio Py, one of our pioneers.

The cinematographic sons and daughters of the legendary Py have traveled along hazardous roads, and the majority of us have ended up imprinting our imaginations on video, not out of love, but due to budgetary necessities. For myself, I ought to confess that working with the electronic imagination permitted me to grow professionally and to produce continually. Television enabled me to complete 60 works focusing on immigration in the country and 40 about our popular artists, all 50 minutes long-unthinkable to produce in 16mm or 35mm.

The actual conditions of the documentary in Argentina continue to be the same: little money, difficulty of obtaining screening venues, and the lack of interest on the part of the public, the majority of whom equate the word documentary with boredom and many small animals.

To end these lines on an optimistic note, I permit myself to boast that from these distant lands, we have had the luxury of exporting Jorge Preloran, one of our best documentarians—if not the best—who resides in Los Angeles and who just retired as professor from UCLA, after 20 long years of fertile labor.


Clara Zappettini
Translated by Diana Rico