El Secreto de Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes)
Probably one of the most well known Argentine exports in terms of cinema, El Secreto de Sus Ojos won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2010, and was also voted one of the top 100 films since 2000 in the BBC’s list of 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century. It’s part romance, part thriller, and features Argentina’s favourite actors Ricardo Darin as Benjamín Espósito, a judiciary employee who finds himself drawn back into an unsolved case from earlier in his career, and back to the woman he worked on the case with. El Secreto de Sus Ojos deals with love, deception and revenge. It is long, but worth the watch.
Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens)
This film from the year 2000 again features prolific actor Ricardo Darin, but this time he stars as a con artist trying to peddle some fake stamps, the so-called ‘Nine Queens’. Twists and turns abound, and nobody can be trusted. Nueve Reinas is set in Buenos Aires and is considered by many to have reached cult classic status in Argentina.
La Historia Oficial (The Official Story)
La Historia Oficial is a must-watch for anyone looking for a cinematic insight into the history of Argentina’s dictatorship and the harrowing effects it had on people’s lives. Released in 1985, it tells the story of a middle-class family who discover that their adopted child is actually the child of a desaparecido – those who were kidnapped and killed by the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1986.
Not so much cult classic as Hollywood musical, Evita stars Madonna and was released in 1996. Most people outside Argentina know about Argentina because of this film, in which Madonna played Argentina’s favourite daughter Eva Peron. The film is narrated by Antonio Banderas and depicts Evita’s life, from her humble country beginnings to rise as Argentina’s First Lady. Madonna reportedly campaigned to be cast in the film by sending director Oliver Stone a four-page letter about how she was the perfect fit.
El Clan (The Clan)
El Clan is the story of a middle-class family who turn to crime when their family business leaves them struggling economically, and the family’s patriarch decides to kidnap the children of wealthy families and hold them to ransom. The fact that his son plays rugby with many of the victims complicates matters, and when a kidnapping goes wrong, the protagonist finds himself in hot water. A true story, unbelievably.
Ricardo Darin is back in action again as an ambulance-chasing lawyer who becomes embroiled in a dangerous situation when he falls foul of his corrupt boss. This is not only bad news for him, but also for the girl he has fallen for who works for the hospitals where he tries to pick up injured clients. Naturally, drama ensues.
Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales)
This is a comedy, but Argentine-style, meaning it’s funny, but also dramatic and disastrous. The structure of the film is organised around six mini-plots, each elaborating on a particular facet of Argentine culture and society. Again, expect vengeance, adultery, murder, and lots of screaming. This is definitely one of the most accurate portrayals of Argentine society – worth checking out.