Kamchatka (film)

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Kamchatka
Kamchatkaposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Marcelo Piñeyro
Produced by Pablo Bossi
Pedro D'Angelo
Oscar Kramer
Francisco Ramos
Written by Marcelo Piñeyro
Marcelo Figueras
Starring Ricardo Darín
Cecilia Roth
Tomás Fonzi
Héctor Alterio
Music by Bingen Mendizábal
Cinematography Alfredo F. Mayo
Edited by Juan Carlos Macías
Distributed by Buena Vista
Hispano Foxfilms
Release date(s)
  • September 17, 2002 (2002-09-17) (Argentina)
Running time 105 minutes
Country Argentina
Spain
Language Spanish
Budget $8,000,000
Box office $45,379,935

Kamchatka is a 2002 Argentine and Spanish drama film directed by Marcelo Piñeyro and written by Piñeyro and Marcelo Figueras. The movie features Ricardo Darín, Cecilia Roth, Tomás Fonzi, Héctor Alterio, among others.[1]

The motion picture is set in Argentina during the Dirty War of the 1970s and tells the story of a family hiding from the government in rural Argentina.

Kamchatka was Argentina's official submission for the 2002 Oscar Awards in the foreign language film category.

Plot[edit]

The film is seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy, Harry (Matías del Pozo), who does not know that Argentina's 1976 coup d'état is impacting his life.

After witnessing the "disappearance" of dissident friends, a human rights lawyer (Ricardo Darín) and his research scientist wife (Cecilia Roth) flee the city and hide from the military police in a vacant summer house. With them are their two kids: Harry, who is fascinated with the escape artistry of Harry Houdini, and El Enano, his little brother. (Translated as "Little Guy" in the English subtitles, played by Milton de la Canal. The actual translation is "dwarf".) The family adopts new identities and attempts to lead a normal life. Later, they are joined by a student who is using the alias Lucas (Tomás Fonzi).

Their new life is difficult, but a visit with their estranged grandparents (Fernanda Mistral and Héctor Alterio) reveals that they are still a close-knit family. Subtly hinted, however, and used as a metaphor, is the mother's constant smoking and El Enano's renewed bed-wetting. Both serve to show how stressful and precarious their situation is.

Cast[edit]

  • Ricardo Darín as Dad, David Vincent (alias)
  • Cecilia Roth as Mom Vincent (alias)
  • Matías Del Pozo as Harry (alias)
  • Milton De La Canal as Simón, El Enano (alias)
  • Héctor Alterio as Grandfather
  • Fernanda Mistral as Grandmother
  • Tomás Fonzi as Lucas
  • Mónica Scapparone as Bertuccio's Mother
  • Evelyn Dominguez as Niña Morena

Background[edit]

Basis of film[edit]

Main article: Dirty War

The film is based on the real-life political events that took place in Argentina after Jorge Rafael Videla's reactionary military junta assumed power on March 24, 1976. During the junta's rule: the parliament was suspended, unions, political parties and provincial governments were banned, and in what became known as the Dirty War, between 9,000 and 30,000 people deemed left-wing "subversives" disappeared from society.[2]

Harry and Dad play in the lake.

Screenplay[edit]

According to the Internet Movie Database, the screenplay was written by Marcelo Figueras, based on an original story written by Figueras and Marcelo Piñeyro. When the time for the nominations came, the Argentine Film Critics Association credited the authorship of the final script to both of them.

Title of film[edit]

The title refers to the Russian northeastern state, which, in the movie, is used by the family's father in the boardgame TEG as the ultimate stand-off, and who uses it as his last resource to win. The title thus alludes to the family situation of hiding away from imminent peril as a final act of defiance before their ultimate downfall.

Politics in Argentine films[edit]

Kamchatka is part of what can be considered a second group of films to be made in Argentina since the downfall of the Proceso dictatorship (1976–1983). Another film in the second group is Veronico Cruz (1988).

The first group, including such films as The Official Story (1985), Night of the Pencils (1986), and Funny Dirty Little War (1983) dealt frankly with the repression, the tortures, and the disappearances during the Dirty War.

This second group of films uses metaphor and suggestive images, and hints at wider socio-political issues.[3][4]

Critical reception[edit]

In a review, critic Anji Milanovic called the film an "heartrending drama" and liked the look of the film. He wrote, "The cinematography is gorgeous, and the Argentine countryside looks like a fairytale, all the more distressing given the killing and torture that occurred. The terror they feel is shown in little vignettes of family life."[5]

Film critic A. Fernandez-Santos, critic for the Spanish daily El País, wrote "Kamchatka has many features to be considered a masterpiece, it's cinema at its best, gifted with a great strength of emotional impact. It is a tender, grievous and touching elegy. Underneath the intense silent walls of captivity, it hides the thud and rage of the immeasurable collective tragedy."[6]

Mercedes Santos Moray, reporting from the Havana Film Festival, liked that director Piñeyro delivered in giving the audience a suggestive image of the tragic, historical events, and wrote, "The painful memory is represented in an intimate way. Piñeyro works both with the feelings and the reason. His film is a metaphor about the dimensions of freedom. The people still suffer but the danger has disappeared. There are only the phantoms of the past... A family in the film escape the repressions for a moment, but at last their lives are affected by the violent events."[7]

Awards[edit]

Wins

Nominations

  • Argentine Film Critics Association Awards: Silver Condor; Best Actor, Ricardo Darín; Best Art Direction, Jorge Ferrari; Best Cinematography, Alfredo F. Mayo; Best Original Screenplay, Marcelo Figueras and Marcelo Piñeyro; 2003.
  • Cartagena Film Festival: Golden India Catalina; Best Film, Marcelo Piñeyro; 2003.
  • Flanders International Film Festival: Grand Prix, Marcelo Piñeyro; 2003.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kamchatka at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ The Vanished Gallery.
  3. ^ Santos Moray, Mercedes. FIPRESCI, "A Trip to Kamchatka," film review at the Havana Film Festival, 2003.
  4. ^ New Internationalist. Issue 192, February 1989.
  5. ^ Milanovic, Anji. La Plume Noire, film review, 2003.
  6. ^ Fernandez-Santos, A. El País, film review, November 29, 2002.
  7. ^ Santos Moray, Mercedes. Ibid.

External links[edit]