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Argentina Cinema

Argentina's cinematic origins:

With Argentina-based Frenchman Eugene Py’s 1897 short La Bandera, film came to Argentina soon after its creation in Paris, France. By 1900, the first theaters specially made for movie projections and the first news reels appeared. The early 1900s saw many other firsts, including the first fiction movie with professional actors, La Revolucion de Mayo (1910); the first feature-length film, Amalia (1914); the first big success, Nobleza Gaucha (1915); and the first animation feature-length movie in the world, El Apostol (1917.) Also in 1917, Argentine icon Carlos Gardel made his cinematic debut in Flor de Durazno. During this early silent film period, over 200 movies were shot mainly focused on Argentina’s history and literature, but also science, showcased in Dr. Alejandro Posadas’ cutting edge surgical cinema.

Cinema of the 1920's and 30's:

Towards the end of the 1920s, Tango dancing began to become a focus of Argentine film, and the Tango films of AgustĂ­n Ferreyra were considered especially well done. With the advent of sound film in 1933, Tango films exploded throughout the decade. The 1930s and 40s marked a period of great growth for Argentine film, as an average of forty-two films were produced annually, each a social criticism of popular and political themes. By 1938, twenty-nine filming galleries existed in Argentina, with films being exported to countries all over Latin America.

Cinema of the 1940's:

The prohibitive political climate of the 1940s, with increasing state intervention into the film industry, led to censorship and a general decline of authentic and quality filmmaking in Argentina. Filmmakers were forced to ignore the burning issues that spoke to the audience and avoided the social criticism that had previously caused film to thrive. With Argentina’s neutrality during WWII, Argentine films had a difficult time getting distributed outside of the country.

Cinema of the 1950's:

As Argentine films lost their viewership, American movies from Hollywood gained popularity and a strong foothold in the market. This continued until the Cinema Act of 1957 was passed, which established the "Instituto Nacional de Cinematografía" to provide education and funding for Argentine filmmakers, neutralize the government’s influence on the industry, and curb the rampant influx of Hollywood productions. Changes created by the INC, as well as the influence of European cinema and a renewed interest in local and political issues led to a rejuvenated national cinema known as the “New Argentine Cinema,” which featured films that were honest about life in the country.

Filmmakers that achieved international notoriety during this time include Leopoldo Torre-Nilsson, Fernando Ayala, David Jose Kohon, Simon Feldman, Fernando Solanas, José Martínez Suárez, Manuel Antin, and Leonardo Favio.

Cinema of the 1960's:

The 1960s brought very popular comedians to the screen. Alberto Olmedo appeared in slap-stick comedies like El Andador throughout the 60s and 70s. Also popular during this time were controversial comedies that displayed sex and nudity to a degree previously unseen in Argentine film. The late 1960s also brought films with radical political and social messages, including Solanas’ 1968 La Hora de Los Hornos, a provocative work that was exhibited in secret functions to challenge the military government.

Cinema of the 1970's and 80's:

The Military Junta of 1976 predictably led once again to censorship of the cinema, in which light comedies or thrillers were the only movies left untouched. By the 1980s, with the downfall of General Galtieri and the rise of the Radical Party, military control and censure loosened and popularity shifted once more from comedies to more serious and important films that captured the zeitgeist. Well-known filmmaker Manuel Antin led the INC and facilitated the resurgence of a new generation of Argentine filmmaking, known as “Free and Democratic Argentine Cinema.” During this time, several movies were made dealing with the repression, tortures and disappearances of the Dirty War, including Funny Little Dirty War (1983), the Oscar-winning The Official Story (1985), and Night of the Pencils (1986).

Cinema of the 1990's:

Despite Argentina’s ongoing economic and political crises, in the 1990s a group of young directors created the second wave of the “New Argentine Cinema,” and their independent and socially aware films have been acknowledged and praised at film festivals worldwide. Films that fall into this category include Bruno Stagnaro and Adrián Caetano’s Pizza, Birra, Faso; Pablo Trapero’s Mundo Grúa; Fabián Bielinsky’s very successful Nueve Reinas (a modern take on a classic heist movie); Lucrecia Martel’s personal and disturbing La Ciénaga, and Juan José Campanella’s El Hijo De La Novia, an Oscar-nominated commercial success.

Current cinema of Argentina:

Started in 1995, video and television companies are required to make contributions to the Argentine film industry, and 50% of total box office sales go towards the fostering of new cinema, helping young directors get funding for the production of a diverse array of films. While this will help to keep the industry alive as Argentina struggles out of the major economic crisis it experienced between 1999 and 2002, some filmmakers believe that government funding and intervention in the film industry is ultimately stifling.

Regardless of all this, most cinemas only screen Hollywood movies, making it hard for a Argentine films to compete. Larger cities have art house cinemas, with Film festivals that screen new Argentine releases. The national film institute, INCAA ( has a network of low-cost cinemas throughout Argentina featuring national and occasionally foreign classics. Mar de Plata has a film festival in mid March, Buenos Aires in mid April, and Salta in the first week of December.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Argentina: Safety, Camping in Argentina, Safety, Services, When to Go, Wine Country Tours, Safety, Before You Go, Services and When to Go.

By Nili Larish
I'm a reader, a writer, and a traveler, the kind of gal who likes to get as filthy as possibly on a camping trip, and then spend hours in the bathtub...
09 Dec 2010

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