Argentina has a long and proud history of cinema and television, making it one of the countries that most contributed to the development and conquest of film and television across the globe. Exhibiting tremendous initiative and ingenuity, Argentina was present on the film scene from the very first moment practically, and proudly produced the first feature-length animated movie in history, El apostol (The Apostle), as well as partaking of many of the innovative applications of the new technology, such as documentaries and news reels. From sports (soccer, anyone?) to in-depth social review, Argentine television and cinema remains world-class.
The betrothal of video and sound in the 1930s, when the world’s first “talking pictures” were shot, brought a serious boost to Argentine film. Fortunately, Argentina’s fabulous music culture made the perfect complement to an already mature and established film industry, and with such vocal maestros as Carlos Gardel Argentine film was diffused throughout the world. Indeed, many argue that the films that this great artist performed in were the main vessel by which tango became an international sensation, thus further evincing the contribution of film to Argentine and world culture.
Another distinction for the country goes to its public television industry, which, launched in 1951 with the advent of Channel 13, makes it the oldest running public television service in Latin America.
In recent history, Argentine film has been commendable for its bold treatments of very difficult, painful subjects such as the last dictatorship in the country, and the human rights violations that it committed. From the 1985 Oscar Winner La historia oficial (The Official Story) to 2008’s Emmy-winning TV series Television por la identidad (Television for Identity), both dealing with the difficult legacies of a not-so-distant past, Argentine treatment of such politically-charged subjects has been lauded by audiences worldwide.
Hence, beyond being the home to some of the greatest idols of sports from yesteryear and today alike, like Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, or Manu Ginobili, Argentina also has a rich cinematic and television culture worth checking out. As proof, Buenos Aires (the capital city) and Mar del Plata (a coastal resort city) host each year two of Latin America’s most important film festivals, the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival and the Mar del Plata International Film Festival. Though local interest isn’t strong enough to air Argentine movies or shows over regular broadcast channels, if you have a cable or satellite TV provider you will most likely be able to find some exceptional samples of this country’s rich film and television heritage.
Today, the country’s film and TV industries are undergoing the modernizing changes that mass access to media creates in a modern society, whether it be through the Internet, satellite TV, cable, or what have you. As awareness increases in a society, and accessibility to last-generation technologies like HD TVs or DVRs abounds, there always will emerge a new class of film or TV show ready to shake our opinions and challenge us to reconsider important aspects of our society. Surely Argentine actors, directors, and producers are putting their heads together right now to come up with their newest way to do just that! Stay tuned.