The Blonds

English Title: The Blonds

Original Title: Los rubios

Country of Origin: Argentina

Studio: Primer Plano Film Group, INCAA

Director: Albertina Carri

Producer(s): Marcelo Céspedes, Barry Ellsworth, Paola Pelzmajer, Pablo Wisznia

Screenplay: Albertina Carri, Alan Pauls

Cinematographer: Catalina Fernández

Editor: Alejandra Almirón, Catalina Fernández, Carmen Torres

Runtime: 89 minutes

Genre: Documentary

Starring/Cast: Albertina Carri, Analía Couceyro, Santiago Giralt, Jesica Suarez

Year: 2003

Other Information:

Composers:

Gonzalo Córdoba

Charly García

Ryûichi Sakamoto

 

 

Format:

Colour & B/W, 35 mm


Synopsis:

The Blonds follows director Albertina Carri as she looks for traces of her parents, who disappeared during the last military dictatorship. In the process of interviewing former militants and neighbours, and reconstructing scenes with both actors and Playmobil figures, the film explores the construction of individual and collective identity. In focusing on the filmmaking process, The Blonds takes a behind-the-scenes approach that blurs the boundary between fiction and documentary as it questions traditional modes of representation in cinema.

  

Beatriz Urraca

 


Critique:

The terms ‘disappeared’, ‘dictatorship’, ‘genocide’ and ‘state terrorism’ are not mentioned in The Blonds. Nor do ‘the blonds’ – Carri’s parents – appear onscreen even in photographs. This strategy of concealment makes them, and the aforementioned concepts, omnipresent to an oppressive degree. For the generation whose parents were physically and morally annihilated during the dictatorship, Carri addresses and redefines concepts related to the memory of the recent past. This innovative double play between new concepts and social actors emerges in this film as an aesthetics that has been called ‘subjective documentary’.

 

In contrast to her concealment of her parents and their stigmas, Carri chooses to show herself emphatically. She approaches themes such as the disappeared and the military regime, which are already eroded by their treatment in classic Argentine post-dictatorship film from La historia oficial/The Official Story (Luis Puenzo, 1985) to Cazadores de utopías/Hunters of Utopia (David Blaustein, 1996). It does so – setting aside stereotypes, anachronisms  and hypocritical subtleties – from the point of view of her own doubts, prejudices and beliefs. As she faces the camera, Carri seems ready to show everything – including herself – completely. Thus the film includes takes that are repeated ‘by mistake’, arguments about how to proceed with the film, the reading of a letter from the INCAA that disapproves of the work already completed. This segment turns the film into a process of construction.

 

Carri uses numerous stylistic and narrative resources, such as an exposed backstage, testimonials of her parents’ former colleagues, Playmobil animations, filmed photographs and black-and-white shots to move away from the solemn and the conventional representations of the disappeared, combining political and filmic discussions. This is a multi-layered work that seeks to rethink terms such as ‘military dictatorship’ or ‘disappeared’ as well as the ways of documenting and filming them.

 

Although its initial motivation seems to be Carri’s search for traces of her parents, the director makes her enquiry conform to what remains of them within her. The quest is in the present moment: she speaks about her role as a filmmaker, and this makes her seem disturbingly cold, unmoved, not upset enough, even excited by her own creation. She does not seem co-opted by nostalgia of what was not meant to be Carri is the daughter of the disappeared, but she does not behave, gesture, speak or even appear to think as we believe the children of the disappeared should.

 

Thus it is justified to emphasise the formal aspects of her discourse, which in The Blonds deviates from conventional filmic narrative to reveal itself as a pioneer. Her story is specific and subjective, but not narrative. Carri puts her doubts, her hopes, her story, her own person onscreen and, after that, the status of things – her own, society’s – will never be the same.

 

 

Translated by Beatriz Urraca

Author of this review: Sebastián Russo