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Argentina Film History

Eugene Py became the first filmmaker and cameraman in Argentina with his short film La Bandera Argentina (The Argentine Flag). By 1908, Max Glucksmann started opening theaters across Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. Glucksmann had 13 brothers and brought most of them into the business. Glucksmann became the most dominant individual in Argentina cinema during the silent era.

In 1916, Federico Valle hired a young artist named Quirino Cristiani to do a political cartoon. Cristiani created a 2 1/2 minute cartoon. It was so popular that in 1917, Crisitani created the first feature-length animated film ever made, El Apostol, which was an hour and ten minutes long and was said to be composed of 58,000 drawings.

The Argentina film industry really advanced with sound films in 1933. Argentina Sono Film started at the same time. Soon, production was up to 30 films per year which they exported to Latin American countries.

By 1938 there were already 29 filming galleries, but the equipment used had not made the same advancements..

The main filmmakers of the time were Moglia Barth, Francisco Mugica, Manuel Romero, Daniel Tinayre, Luis Saslavsky, de Savalia, Borcosque and Luis Cesar Amadori with writers such as Mario Soffici and Leopoldo Torres Ríos.

Argentina stayed neutral during WWII which had a backlash on the industry. The United States had pushed Argentina to join the Allies in the war, and when they declined, the US cut off many supplies from the United States including film stock.

1955 was an important year in Argentine cinema. The Peron government, which had caused Argentina to be cut off from the scientific and artistic developments happening in the rest of the world, was replaced. This opened up a period of great optimism in Argentina. In this optimism, the National Film Institute was established.

The filmmakers that rose to prominence were: Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, Simon Feldman, Martinez Suarez, and Rene Mugica.

By 1970, Argentina was about to plunge into a civil war. In 1973, the exiled president Juan Peron was re-elected president. Although he died the first year of office, his wife Isabelle Peron took his place. But in 1976, a military coup seized power, replacing Isabelle Peron and launching a brutal assault on the opposition. The country was plunged into economic, political, and cultural crises. Inflation was at 100% and the film industry became paralyzed and production halted.

In 1984, a new government seized control and did away with censorship. However, the 1989 Argentine economic crisis, with flourishing inflation, turned into producer-directors depending on state subsidies or foreign co-productions. Production plummeted and by 1991 only 15 feature films were produced.

Argentine filmmakers placed their hopes on the new Act, passed in 1995, forcing video and television to make financial contributions to Argentine movies. In the 2000s, the market is fairly stable with an average production again back up to 30-35 feature films per year.