Tuesday, September 23, 2014

URSP Student Brooke Thomas Conducts A Close Examination of the Works of Lucrecia Martel and New Argentine

This summer I was given both the opportunity to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina and complete an undergraduate research project focusing on New Argentine Cinema and the films of the director, Lucrecia Martel. I've been in South America for almost two months now and I am having a hard time believing that both my time here and with this project are almost through! Fortunately, though, I saved the best part of my research for last: a long-weekend trip to the northeast province of Argentina, Salta, where Lucrecia Martel was born. 

This trip was a critical part of my study. Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world; given its size, it is unsurprising that there are many distinct regions and cities within this giant landmass. While I have spent most of my summer in Buenos Aires, a bustling metropolitan that takes its life and architectural style from Europe, I really needed to learn more about Salta and how Martel's hometown affected her filmic direction. Thus, I made the 20-hour bus trip to Salta just last weekend and enjoyed the warmer weather, the gorgeous landscapes, but most of all, the people.

Now that I have spent some time in Salta and can compare it to two other major cities I have visited, Mendoza in the west near Chile, and Buenos Aires in the east, I can see why Martel chooses her birthplace as the set for her films. Not only is Salta aesthetically stunning but the people and culture there are unlike anywhere else in the country. The warmer weather, even in the July winter, the hospitable people, and the slow pace of life make Salta the perfect place to film and the perfect place to reflect on Argentina's distinct regions. Even more, I now understand why Martel often suggests Salta as a peripheral space; while most of Argentina is concerned with globalizing and building infrastructure, the people of Salta are content to move more slowly and enjoy their deep-seeded farming and gaucho lifestyle. Geographically, the city exists well away from the metropolitan epicenter of the country, Buenos Aires, and, more critically, the people also embrace a more conservative, Catholic lifestyle than what can be found in the nation's capital. Getting to experience these physical and philosophical differences between Buenos Aires and Salta is key to understanding Martel's vision and authorial view of class, way of life, and space.