Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sex & Food in Buenos Aires (Part 2)

A few years ago, in Buenos Aires, Ámbito Financiero film critic and independent director Diego Curubeto invited me to a shoot for his first film, a hybrid docudrama on actress Isabel Sarli. Finally, this month, “Carne sobre Carne” (Flesh on Meat, Spanish-language trailer at the link) has gone into limited release and has drawn rave reviews in newspapers ranging from the left-of-center Página 12 to the middle-of-the-road Clarín and the conservative La Nación, as well as the English-language Buenos Aires Herald (link available only after 2 p.m. Buenos Aires time, daily).

Curubeto uses the story of Sarli (born 1935), whose films seem tame today but were considered scandalous in her 1958-1979 heyday, as a case study of censorship in an Argentina that was dominated by conservative institutions like the Catholic Church that, in turn, supported some of the continent’s most vicious military dictatorships. In interviewing Sarli at her suburban Buenos Aires home for a BBC documentary, Curubeto noticed a pile of film canisters that, as it happened, contained uncensored versions of her films as they were seen overseas (including in the United States). This inspired the project.

I played my own small part in this - literally so, as Curubeto recruited me, on the spot, to act in the 3 a.m. shoot (the Ministerio de Obras Públicas, a rationalist skyscraper that houses the public works ministry, was unavailable except at that hour). Sitting at a desk, improvising with an ancient dial telephone in my hand, I portrayed Roman Polanski’s Polish-producer-in-London-exile in an argument over distribution rights with Sarli’s director/producer/lover Armando Bó. Unfortunately, my scene didn’t make the final cut, but I’ve been assured it will appear on the DVD version (whenever that might come out) and I at least made the list of credits.

Despite my exclusion, the theatrical version of the film does include major Argentine cinema figures such as Gastón Pauls (who starred in the multiple award-winning Nine Queens). "Carne sobre Carne" is playing every Tuesday and Saturday night this month at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), the continent’s foremost modern art museum.

Meanwhile, on a peripherally related theme, Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whose plunging popularity perplexes her Peronist loyalists, stuck her foot in her mouth last month. Addressing an audience of pig farmers, and responding to public complaints over falling beef supplies and rising prices, she suggested that pork would not only be cheaper but would also offer an additional advantage: ““I've just been told something I didn't know; that eating pork improves your sex life ... I'd say it's a lot nicer to eat a bit of barbecued piglet than take Viagra.” Certainly, at least, it beats swine flu.

Fernández's words, of course, led to a lot of off-color commentary in the press, the best of which came from the online magazine Planeta Joy, which published a list of the five best places to eat pork in Buenos Aires, plus suggestions for the best nearby telos to “quench your desire.” In a slightly different manner, I addressed this topic in an earlier post with a similar title - thus, the “Part 2” that appears above.

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