After a long and grueling 31-hour trip (About 22-hour plane ride, 4-hour stop over in two countries, and 5-hour car ride), we finally arrived in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Argentina was my third country in Latin America, and it was the first time I was going to attend an international film festival.
Mar del Plata International Film Festival is the largest and only A-list film festival in Latin America. This is the most prestigious festival in the region. There were talks that Diego Luna and Sophia Coppola were attending the event. Luna’s movie "Abel" was competing in the Latin American category while Coppola’s movie “Somewhere” was the opening film of the festival. This brought my excitement a notch higher. Unfortunately, due to the local airport shutdown, the international stars failed to grace us with their presence. Nonetheless, it turned out to be one awesome festival!
|Main venue of the Mar del Plata International Film Festival|
Our very own Adolfo Alix Jr.’s “Chassis” impressed the audience with its raw presentation of the depressing situation of the nomadic families in the South Harbor of the Philippines. Shot in black and white, the film moved the Latin American audience with the realities of impoverished nomadic settlers whose women are forced into prostitution in order to feed their children. The film was an eye-opener for the Latin Americans to the struggles of the Filipinos back home.
During festival breaks, we toured the lovely city of Mar del Plata. It is located along the coast of Atlantic Ocean, with more than 17km of coastline. On warm summers, the beaches are filled with locals and tourists enjoying the sun, sand and waves. The Chica and Grande beaches are two of the popular ones.
|The beaches of Mar del Plata|
|Our tour bus..I mean boat!|
We went to visit one of the most important fishing harbors in Argentina. We drove around the area and found quite a number of sea lions resting on the sand. Unfortunately, we chanced upon an injured seal. It seemed like it was caught on a fishing net which deeply scathed its skin.
|Mar del Plata Harbor|
|It broke our hearts to see this injured seal resting on the rock.|
Back on land, we visited the religious sites such as the Mar del Plata Cathedral, a towering neo-Gothic style church built at the turn of the century, and Santa Cecilia chapel, where the shrine of Santa Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians, was situated.
|Mar del Plata San Pedro Cathedral|
|Sanata Cecilia Chapel|
|Gratitude shown by devotees|
Mar del Plata is evidently thriving in the field of arts. Apart from the film festival, other attractions in the city are its museums. One of which is the Museo Municipal de Arte Juan Carlos Castagnino. This was the home of Juan Carlos who was an important art critic and collector during his time.
Our trip to Mar del Plata was a taste of Latin American arts and culture. We were inspired by the freedom and creativity the artists in this region possess. Its captivating landscape, the mountains and white sand beaches, enhanced the entire experience.
Days later, our side trip to Buenos Aires, will impress us even more not only with its diverse influences in architecture but as well as the seductive art of tango.
|Direk Adolf Alix with Ornella, his filmfest guide Ornella Cervino , and my co-host Mikael Daez at the Awarding Ceremony of the Mardel Filmfest|