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Directed by Lucrecia Martel

Argentina, France, Spain, Japan 2001 103 mins. In Spanish with English subtitles

Lucrecia Martel’s feature debut heralded the arrival of a major talent on the world cinema circuit; La Ciénaga is a breath of fresh air within the stuffy, moralizing landscape of the new Argentine cinema to that point. Following two decadent yet decaying families vacationing in the northern town of Salta, Martel’s portrait is concerned with life’s simple pleasures and desires, yet coated with a veneer of almost-ruin that sometimes comes from days/weeks/months spent lounging. Sprawling domestic squabbles and small interpersonal intrigues dominate the proceedings, and Martel probes deep into the upper-middle-class psyche in her search to understand—and lay bare—the mindsets that come from extended bouts of extreme comfort, and what happens when that comfort comes crashing down. Led by Graciela Borges and Mercedes Moran—two of Argentine cinema’s finest actresses—La Ciénaga is one of the finest debuts of our young century, introducing the world to an extraordinary talent with very specific set of stylistic and social concerns. Winner, Alfred Bauer Prize, 2001 Berlinale.