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Horror Film Festival To Spook BA This Week!

October 28th, 2009 | 07:50 PM


Rojo Sangre

Just in time for Halloween, Buenos Aires Sangre Rojo, a horror film festival, will spook the hearts and minds of Porteños starting Thursday.

The festival, which has run annually since 2000, will screen short and feature-length films from Argentina, Canada, Japan and the US, among other countries. It will even include the zombie movie “Colin” from the British Indie director Marc Price. The film cost only $70 to produce. Colin turned out to be a surprise smash hit at Cannes. You can see the trailer for Colin here.

If you like horror movies, bizarre flicks or otherwise outré films, BA Sangre Rojo could be just for you. For more information about films and times, click here.

Where: Lavalle 780 (in downtown Buenos Aires) at the Monumental Lavalle Theater
When: October 29 thru November 4
Cost: 8 pesos per screening


Interview: Author, Journalist Andrew Graham-Yooll

October 27th, 2009 | 05:37 AM


Graham-YoollBy Javier Arevalo Rendall

Andrew Graham-Yooll is one of the most respected journalists in Argentina and the UK. Born in Buenos Aires in 1944, his father was Scottish and his mother English. He started his career at the Buenos Aires Herald in 1966, where he eventually became its editor-in-chief and president. He was one of only a few journalists who dared to write about Argentina’s vicious military junta.

In 1976, after writing extensively about the dictatorship, Graham-Yooll was forced into exile in the UK, where he contributed to the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian, among other publications. He has authored around 30 books in Spanish and English.

Now, after about half a century in journalism, he’s become an icon for young journalists. In this interview he shares some of his views on the Argentine and British press, literature, today’s media, and his beginnings as a journalist. Finally, he talks about the Kirchners and their relationship with the press, and Argentina’s new media law.

What are the biggest challenges facing journalism today?

The complexity of the media, the number of groups and their owners (can make things confusing). It very often happens that you don’t know who you are working for. Particularly in Argentina, where ownership changes hands very quickly. The challenge for journalists is to face this situation and stay balanced, objective and try to not be intimidated. It’s a hell of a handful that journalists have these days.

Is that difficult to achieve?

Well, I've already been there and done that. But knowing how to approach information is hard for everyone. There’s a great deal of manipulation, you can be tricked in small things and that itself is a complication. If you put your foot in it once, even if it’s something small, you can be left scarred. It can be just a simple goodwill mistake, such as believing someone you shouldn’t believe. Maybe these kinds of problems were always around, but now they’re magnified by the speed at which the world goes round. Who should you believe when it comes to politics? That problem has always existed. (more…)


Metallica Coming to BA in January – Report

October 24th, 2009 | 12:29 PM



The Heavy Metal band Metallica is coming to Buenos Aires in January, 2010, according to a report in the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio.

According to the report, the band will kick off its South American tour in Lima, Peru on January 19, then it will head towards Argentina and work its way up to Mexico. Official information about the concert isn’t yet available on the band’s website.

Metallica will play at River Stadium, according to Rolling Stone, which also cites Peruvian media.

I’ll update this post with official confirmation and ticket information once it’s available.


Buenos Aires Photo Starts Wednesday

October 24th, 2009 | 07:57 AM


BA Photo

One of the year's best photo and video art shows opens Wednesday when the City of Buenos Aires inaugurates the 5th annual Buenos Aires Photo exhibit.

Buenos Aires Photo will display works from 30 galleries in seven countries from the Americas and Spain. The exhibit will run through November 1. Details follow:

Where: Palais de Glace – Posadas 1725
When: 1pm to 9pm
Cost: 20 pesos (or 2×1 with American Express, Club Nación, Club Arte al Día)

You can also get tickets online at Ticketek.


Kirchner Lo Hizo … Y Deshizo

October 20th, 2009 | 07:46 PM


Cristina & Nestor

Famous for its beef and tango, Argentina is also infamous among diplomats and investors for what they say is its deeply manic approach to public policy.

For good or bad, when Argentine leaders come into power, they often undo or reverse their predecessors’ policies. This is often true to a much greater extent here than it is in other countries.

Unlike Brazil or Chile, Argentina doesn’t have a long tradition of a stable, respected and professional civil service that ensures continuity in public policy regardless of who occupies the “sillón de Rivadavia,” or the presidential throne.

Examples of Argentina’s public policy vicissitudes abound.

The 1976-1983 military junta was followed by the democratically-elected government of President Raúl Alfonsín. To restore a sense of justice and clamp down on the impunity that reigned during the dictatorship, Alfonsín in 1985 set up the Trial of the Juntas, ensuring that at least some of those responsible for crimes against humanity were punished for their deeds.

The trial won Alfonsín international accolades. But in some ways it was all for naught. Alfonsín’s successor, Carlos Menem, pardoned those involved in the Dirty War.



Argentine Lunfardo Videos Are Back: “Mina”

October 18th, 2009 | 04:43 PM


Scooping Argentina is back!

After a lengthy hiatus, I’ve finally installed Final Cut Pro on my new laptop and am back in the saddle again, ready to shoot and edit new videos for your viewing pleasure.

All new videos will be shot and posted in HD. You should be able to watch them full-screen.

This one is from the now classic “lunfardo” series. Enjoy.


CNN on Philanthropist Doug Tompkins and Argentina

October 17th, 2009 | 09:18 PM


Doug Tomkins

My friend Brian Byrnes over at CNN flew across Argentina recently to meet with the philanthropist Doug Tompkins (founder of the clothing giants The North Face and ESPIRIT) and look at his environmental work in the country.

The result of the trip is a very interesting video. Unfortunately, CNN videos can’t be embedded on blogs like this, but you can watch the video in a new window by clicking here.


Retro Film Festival To Screen 1980s Hits in BA

October 17th, 2009 | 07:52 AM


Cine Retro

A Retro Cine Film Festival will open to the public from November 6-8, screening such 1980s classics as Top Gun, E.T., Back to the Future, The Never Ending Story, and, the greatest of them all, Goonies.

The retro fest will take place at the Atlas Cine on Santa Fe 2015, in Barrio Norte.

For more information, previews and show times, click here.


A Stolen Laptop, And An Argentine Story of Hope

October 15th, 2009 | 06:59 AM


HopeA friend of mine wrote the following letter and sent it to the newspaper La Nación, which published it last week in its Letters to the Editor section. It’s a moving message of hope that I wanted to share with you here.

Despite the Robbery, Hope and Happiness Prevailed

Dear Editor:

On August 10, someone broke into my car and stole everything I had in it. Among other things, they took my laptop, which contained all of my work and personal information.

A month later I got an email from an unknown email address. It read:

“Natalia, we don’t know each other. Last week I sent you a DVD with all of the files that were on your laptop that was stolen from you. In a package I sent you, you’ll find an envelop with an explanation of what happened. I hope it’s useful to you. Saludos cordiales.”

I went to the post office and got the package. It contained a DVD and a letter. The letter said:

“Natalia, we don’t know each other. I am a computer repairman. A few days ago a person came into my store, bringing a laptop with him. He asked me to reformat it for him. It was evident that the laptop had been stolen. I realized this once I saw the information that was stored on the laptop. I asked the guy where he got the laptop. He said, “I bought it from a kid for 400 pesos.”

“If we were in a country where institutions work like they’re supposed to, I would have reported this guy to the police and the justice system would have taken care of this. But we both know that things don’t work that way here. If I had reported the guy to the police, he would have said he bought the laptop in good faith. Then, later on, he would have made my life impossible.”

“If I had not formatted the laptop, somebody else would have done it and all of your valuable information would have been lost forever. So I formatted your laptop, but not before making a backup of all your information. That information is yours, and surely it’s very valuable to you. I don’t know you, I don’t know who you are, but these kind of things make me feel very bad.”

“I created an email account so that when you get this DVD, you can confirm it’s receipt to me. Your files are still on my “pen-drive” and I won’t delete them until I know that you’ve received them properly. I hope to have helped you out at least a little by doing this.”

I couldn’t help but become very emotional about this. I felt a profound sense of happiness and strong hope. If we see the world as full of possibility, we can change it. If we treat each other with greater care and commitment, we can build a better Argentina.

It’s good to know that the person who sent me this DVD will be able to leave his children with a legacy of values like this. You see, there still are honest people in the world.

Natalia Fossati:


Most Argentines Say Falklands Are Important Issue

October 13th, 2009 | 09:08 PM


Falkland Islands

Most Argentines consider the Falkland Islands to be an important issue, according to a new survey.

According to the polling firm Ibarómetro, 79% of those polled said the islands – known here as Las Malvinas – are either pretty or very important to the country.

Almost 84% of those surveyed said “the United Kingdom is violating Argentina’s sovereign right to the islands.”

Interestingly, about 53% said they don’t know if they agree with the 1982 dictatorship’s decision to go to war with the UK over the islands. Thirty-three percent said they agree while 15% disagree.

Finally, although Argentines think the issue is important, they’re not all convinced that it’s necessary to vote for political candidates who harbor on the issue.

Less than half of those polled (47%) said they vote based on a candidate’s position regarding the Falklands. Thirty percent said they don’t care about a candidate’s stance while 23% said “it’s not the most important issue” when voting.


Al Gore Giving Talks in Argentina This Week

October 13th, 2009 | 06:21 PM


Al Gore

Al Gore, the Nobel Prize winning former vice president of the United States, is in Argentina.

Gore will give four talks around the country on Wednesday and Thursday. He’ll be speaking first in the Buenos Aires suburb of Tigre Wednesday, then later at La Rural in Palermo. On Thursday he’ll give a talk in Mendoza and another in San Luis.

Click here for more information.

General details follow:

Tigre at 11am, Wednesday ($500 pesos, $100 for students)
La Rural at 4pm, Wednesday ($500 pesos, $100 for students)
Mendoza at 11am, Thursday ($500 pesos, $100 for students)
San Luis at 5pm, Thursday ($480 pesos)


UPDATED: 1999 Argentina Video: “Menem Lo Hizo”

October 13th, 2009 | 06:37 AM

YouTube Preview Image

*This post has been updated to better reflect the more nuanced perspective which I wished to convey in the original post.

It’s been almost exactly 10 years since this advertisement hit Argentina’s airwaves. It was in many ways a triumphant moment for Carlos Menem, the former president. At the same time, it was a low point, with his approval rating hovering below 30% despite years in power.

Though detractors easily forget or simply – though often fairly and accurately – dismiss his achievements, Menem accomplished many positive things for the country.

Menem is now demonized in black and white terms that are unfair to both him and the nation. That’s not to say, of course, that Menem was a saint. Clearly, he wasn’t. Not all of his actions benefited the country. Indeed, some of them actively damaged the country in ways that still have repercussions today. His legacy has been forever tarnished by allegations of corruption, illegal arms trading and a host of other excesses.

But like so many things in history, Menem’s presidency cannot be fairly critiqued in binary terms. He was in power for about decade, longer than any other president in Argentine history, during which time he radically transformed the Argentine economy, the country’s infrastructure, and the world’s view of Argentina.

Argentina’s modern, functioning telecommunications, transportation and hospital infrastructure networks exist today largely because of policies pursued by Menem. And yet much of Menem’s legacy and reputation – perhaps rightly so – have come undone in recent years.

Yet it doesn’t benefit the country to dismiss Menem’s presidency in blanket terms. Doing so provides us with only part of the picture and therefore hinders our ability to learn from Menem’s achievements – and yes – his mistakes. His privatization policies brought great reform but also at great cost to the government’s credibility because of questions about how the privatizations were carried out.

To learn from Menem’s legacy, it would behove all of us to study it objectively, acknowledging what went wrong but also what went right.

It may well be that the negatives outweigh the positives. But we can only know this if we fairly evaluate the Menem legacy from beginning to end. To paint his government in simpleton terms does justice to no one. It merely perpetuates partisan bickering that lead us nowhere positive.

Few presidents, like few humans, are entirely black or white creatures. Our achievements, as well as our moral compasses, sometimes point in different directions and are sometimes better understood in terms of degrees or shades of color instead of in black and white. To deny this is to deny human nature.

This video is a preview to the next post, which will look at how Argentine presidents tend to attack and undo everything done by their predecessors.

For a fascinating and more detailed look at Menem’s presidency,  check out this 1999 Newsweek article.

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