Martín Benchimol and Pablo Aparo’s documentary about the last remaining citizens of Ernestina, a tiny picturesque Argentinian town that’s seen better days, offers an intimate, droll study of siege mentality in action.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2013
Martín Benchimol and Pablo Aparo’s encounter with the good citizens of Ernestina, a small Argentinian town that’s seen better days, offers a droll, perplexed study of disassociation in action. There are few young people to be seen. The old people look at the picturesque dilapidation around them, remember better days, and deplore the state of affairs that has allowed their fine public and commercial buildings to become such ruins. There’s a lot of sitting around to be done – which means plenty of time for bending the ears of the young filmmakers. Soon – confidentially, mind you – they are letting the visitors in on their darkest preoccupation: the scourge of their dying days, the riff-raff who live on the banks of the river just outside town. No misfortune is too minor to be blamed on these mysteriously malevolent river people. Banding together to hire private security may well be Ernestina’s final expression of community spirit. This portrait of embattled old codgers comes tinged with the existential comedy of Latin American fabulism.