Sharing dreams on the silver screen
The latest edition of the Neuquén Basin Film Festival featured films for all the family and was especially popular with the local children. Conquering new ground with the seventh art.
The giant screen rising up behind the stage of the Sánchez Carrillo Cultural Center pays testimony to the movie theater that used to function there many years ago in 1972. Back in the day, the Cotecal cinema was the crowning achievement of a cooperative of a group of neighbors who were still hoping for a telephone in the oil town of Catriel. Today, the movie theater no longer has either projector or seats, as its hall, which used to have a capacity for 500 people, now houses fairs and exhibitions. It was the perfect setting to revive the spirit of yesteryear in the form of the Neuquén Basin Film Festival, hosted in the communities neighboring Tecpetrol's operations since 2018.
"After the break due to the pandemic, we got back in touch with the municipalities, as their cultural areas are joint organizers of this festival together with Tecpetrol and Fundación Proa, which in turn facilitate the films and help us to produce the events," explained María Laura Mastromauro, Community Relations Lead Supervisor in Neuquén.
In Catriel, Senillosa, Rincón de los Sauces and Neuquén, the local community was invited to the screening of nationally-produced family films, as well as many children’s favorites, shown between April 5 and on May 6.
"Our aim is to provide the community with an open experience, free of charge, bringing cultural activity to those places where there are no cinemas," concluded Laura, who drew attention to all the work carried out beforehand to coordinate the screenings with the municipalities and ensure that the festival could dovetail with local cultural programs. The idea was also to inform the community about the variety of films proposed by Proa, as this cultural foundation has an area dedicated to cinema.
Featured at the top of the list of the films selected by the municipalities based on the likely interests of their communities, were two of the most recent Argentine dramas, Hoy se arregla el mundo (Today We Fix The World) and La odisea de los giles (Heroic Losers), as well the movie World about the Qatar 2022 football championships. “We don't screen premieres but focus on recent classics, those which have a particular message to transmit,” explained Mastromauro. “For many of the children, this was their first visit to the movies!”
Just as in Catriel there was a screen already set up, in Rincón de los Sauces, there’s a cinema at the House of Culture. And in Senillosa, the town hall windows were blacked-out to ensure the spectators could enjoy the show to the full. At each location, on the day of the show, trucks rolled up with chairs and the structures required to mount the giant screen in time so that everything could be ready for when the queues of spectators began to grow.
Full of excitement, the families turned up with anticipation to share in the magic of some of the children’s most popular movies: Cars, Encanto, Inside Out, some of the Toy Story saga, and the ever-endearing Luca. The cinema experience was topped off with large helpings of popcorn and fruit juices handed out to the audience by a troupe of jugglers on stilts.