The Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Film is an11-day movie extravaganza showing some of the world’s best independent cinema in theaters across the city.
Known by its Spanish acronym, BAFICI, the festival is now its 23rd year.
In 1998 the Buenos Aires Culture Department began hosting this yearly festival to showcase the planet’s most provocative, bizarre and touching independent films of every genre.
Today, BAFICI is one of the world’s largest independent film festivals with hundreds of film screenings seen by nearly 300,000 filmgoers.
The festival always has a heavy representation of local productions and has served as an excellent promotion vehicle for independent Argentine films.
Argentina is a leader in South American cinema alongside Mexico, Brazil and Cuba. Since the emergence of the 1990’s ‘new cinema’ movement, the national film industry has been on an upswing.
The 2009’s Academy Award winner, ‘The Secret in their Eyes‘ was Argentina’s greatest breakout on the world stage in this generation, increasing an interest in Argentine cinema abroad.
The 20th (2018) edition of the festival also featured the debut hit, ‘El Silencio es un Cuerpo Que Cae‘ (Silence is a Falling Body), which won the Netflix Award for Best First Work.
Changes to BAFICI
This year’s BAFICI has seen many adjustments. The festival directors aim to bring film back to the streets and Corrientes Avenue, Buenos Aires traditional ‘main street’ for theater and film.
The last mostly non-virtual BAFICI was before the pandemic and under another director and national government.
Now El Centro Cultural San Martín is again hosting films, Usina del Arte in La Boca will also host the festival and the centrally-located LaValle Multiplex in Microcentro will be hosting films.
Theaters in wealthier neighborhoods such as Belgrano and Recoleta are out. The Belgrano Multiplex is not participating, this year and neither is El Museo de Bellas Artes in Recoleta.
In 2019 the festival was extended one day, from eleven days to twelve days, and promoted 37 viewing locations around the city, including underprivileged neighborhoods such as the Villa 31 slum.
Local film critics such as Diego Batlle pointed out that there is actually a reduction in the number of actual theaters — from 20 in 2018, to 12 in 2019 because many locations are just cultural centers showing projections.
In 2022 the festival that was once two weeks or more has been reduced to a duration of eleven days and has obviously crunched their marketing budget, with a downgrade in the festival’s website and less marketing.
This year there are 290 films being shown in 16 locations.
The city’s idea is to the move from traditional theaters into the street, saying in their press release:
“With less enclosed theaters and more contact with the street, the neighborhood and the neighbors, BAFICI offers the experience of watching a variety of films with each other and in the community, presenting a diverse national and international program.”
Festival organizer Javier Porta Fouz was also being criticized because American filmmaker, Brian de Palma was suppose to be the featured guest in 2019, but was not able to appear.
In previous editions, there have been appearances and participation by famous directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Morrisey, and John Waters.
This year BAFICI will feature “The Cry of Granuaile”, by Irish director, Dónal Foreman.
Another highly anticipated film is ‘The Novelist’s Film’ by director Hong Sangsoo. It’s a black and white film highlighting the serendipity of chance encounters.
BAFICI Categories and Awards
For those who don’t speak Spanish, the film festival offers an opportunity to see independent Latin American films in the theater with English subtitles.
Non-English films are subtitled in Spanish, and in recent years all but the most obscure films in languages other than Spanish also feature English subtitles.
The festival provides the chance to talk with producers, directors and actors about their films, especially in questions and answer sessions that take place after selected screenings.
Awards have been streamlined and are now handed out in the following categories: Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Script.
The Argentine feature film competition and short film competition have separate awards for the first two categories. Filmgoers are invited to vote on films they see for the People Choice Award.
Other awards include I.Sat’s ‘Film of The Future’ award, Best Children’s Film and a UNICEF human rights award.
Films at BAFICI are for those 18 and over, but kids aren’t excluded.
Since 2009, the BAFICITO category of the festival offers films for children and families.
This year they are centered around Parque Centenario, where films are displayed outdoors.
One anticpated Argentine kid’s film is an independent Argentine production called, ‘El ascenso y caída del Chop Chop Show‘ or ‘The Rise and Fall of Chop Chop Show.’
It is the first Argentine feature film made with puppets and is a critic’s favorite.
Selecting Films at the Festival
Traditionally the city’s film students and other cinephiles dedicate their lives to seeing as many films as possible during BAFICI, although the hardcore filmgoers have diminished in numbers with the festival’s changes in recent years.
You’d see them hanging around the theater all day with short breaks to visit local eateries and cafés, and hanging around the main theaters to hobnob with festival participants and other film-goers.
No matter how dedicated, movie-goers can’t see it all and the theaters are spread out over the city, so it pays to plan well.
If seeing multiple films in one day, check the length of the films and make sure the theaters are close enough to one another to arrive in time.
In the five years before the pandemic BAFICI saw a huge increase in participation. Tickets for the official selections would sell out quick. This year there is more availability to buy tickets in advance online because there was barely any publicity for the festival this year.
Serious filmgoers can purchase the official catalog for in-depth descriptions of the films and other relevant information. You can check the schedule of films online or pick up a free basic program at the Multiplex of Belgrano.
Other events include free educational workshops by Buenos Aires Lab (BAL) and INCAA (National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts), concerts, book presentations and talks with film directors.
Thematic categories include Panorama, Trajectories, The Land Trembles, Places, People and Personalities, Music, Nocturnal, Modern Classics and Dialogues.
⇒ Check out our city tours and day trips
⇒ Don’t miss a tango show while in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente 2022
Apr 19 – May 1 2022
• Cost: AR$150/$100 (students and seniors with I.D.) per film that isn’t free
Purchasing Tickets to the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival
Check the day by day list of films on BAFICI’s official webpage linked above.
To buy tickets online, open an account with Tu Entrada and have a major credit card on hand for purchase. They charge a small fee to buy online.
A handful of tickets are usually reserved for the day of the show, to be purchased at the theater. Make sure to show up early!
El Cultural San Martín: Sarmiento 1551 (San Nicolás, Comuna 1)
Anfiteatro del Parque Centenario: Leopoldo Marechal 832 (Caballito, Comuna 6)
Cine Multiplex Monumental Lavalle: Lavalle 780 (San Nicolás, Comuna 1)
Cine Lorca: Av. Corrientes 1428 (San Nicolás, Comuna 1)
Complejo Gaumont: Av. Rivadavia 1635 (San Nicolás, Comuna 1
Alianza Francesa: Av. Córdoba 946 (San Nicolás, Comuna 1)
Sala Leopoldo Lugones – CTBA: Av. Corrientes 1530, 10° piso (San Nicolás, Comuna 1)
Cine Cosmos UBA: Av. Corrientes 2046 (Balvanera, Comuna 3)
Centro Cultural 25 de Mayo: Av Triunvirato 4444 (Villa Urquiza, Comuna 12)
Museo del Cine: Agustín R. Caffarena 51 (La Boca, Comuna 4)
Buenos Aires Museo (BAM): Defensa 187 (San Telmo, Comuna 1)
Museo Casa Carlos Gardel: Jean Jaures 735 (Balvanera, Comuna 3)
Usina del Arte: Agustín R. Caffarena 1 (La Boca, Comuna 4)
Estación Buenos Aires: Suárez 3100 (Comuna 4)
Barrio Padre Mugica (31) (Comuna 1)
Barrio 21.24: Río 4° y Padre Daniel de la Sierra (Comuna 4)
Teatro Colón Cerrito 628 Malba Cine Av. Figueroa Alcorta 3415 Fundación Proa Av. Pedro de Mendoza 1929
• Plan well and buy online to get tickets to the films you want to see
• If you buy online, don’t forget your I.D. when you go to pick up your tickets
• Don’t show up late for screenings: despite the fact that this is Argentina, where lateness is not too taboo, latecomers are turned away
• Snacks, sodas and beer are sold at most of the theaters. Costs and calories can add up, so consider packing snacks for all-day movie going
→ Read an interview with the director of BAFICI