The Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Film is an11-day movie extravaganza showing some of the independent cinema from around the world in theaters across the city.
Celebrating its 25th year, the festival, known by its Spanish acronym BAFICI, was first hosted by the Buenos Aires Culture Department in 1998 to promote independent cinema of every genre
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 leads South American cinema in terms of international award-winning productions, and is second only to Mexico in terms of quantity.
Despite the artistic output, the country lags behind emerging film industries such as Colombia in terms of revenue, mainly due to Argentina’s low movie ticket prices.
Unfortunately a series of repressive governments in the decades since forced some directors into exile and others to pivot to uncontroversial topics and slapstick comedies.
After the fall of the last military dictatorship in 1983, filmmakers returned to Argentina or reentered the industry.
Many were eager to reveal the horrors of totalitarianism by exploring deeply personal stories placed within a wider socio-political context.
The Official Story won Best Foreign film award at the Oscars in 1985.
Since the emergence of the 1990’s ‘new cinema’ movement, the national film industry has created an idiosyncratic style heavily focused on dramatic plots and character sketches, often using natural lighting and barebones movie sets.
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 BAFICI 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.
The 2022 film, ‘Argentina 1985’ is another historical drama about the prosecution of the Military Dictatorship. It won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.
- This edition will feature new films from directors Lav Diaz, Christian Petzold, Hong Sangsoo, Paul Schrader and Ira Sachs among others.
- More than 250 films will be exhibited with the cinemas in downtown Buenos Aires as the main axis.
- Entrance fee for films is only AR$300 (less than US$1). For retirees, students and kids films the entrance is AR$200
Table of Contents
Changes to BAFICI
This year’s BAFICI continues with tweaks implemented after a few bumpy years.
The festival directors aim to bring film back to the streets, primarily Buenos Aires’ answer to NYC’s Broadway, Corrientes Avenue.
Two of the twelve venues for this edition are El Gaumont and Monumental theaters.
El Centro Cultural San Martín is again hosting films and will be hosting a large part of the programming.
Also along Corrientes visitors can also find Cine Lorca, the Alliance Francaise, Teatro San Martin, Cine Cosmos, and the Arthaus Cultural Center (at Bartolome Mitre 400).
Outside of the city center, there will be films shown at venues such as the Museum of Cinema, the 25 de Mayo Cultural Center, the Centennial Park Amphitheater and, another novelty for the BA International Film Festival, the lovely and normally under-utilized Costanera Sur Drive-in theater.
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 was 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 festival organizers promise 290 films, half of which will be making their worldwide debut.
There will be 400 events and screenings in total.
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 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.
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 and it has a section dedicated to children and young adults.
Since 2009, the BAFICITO category of the festival offers films for children and families.
This year Baficito includes highly anticipated kids films such as, The Black Pharaoh, the Savage and the Princess,’ the latest creation from the renowned French director Michel Ocelot.
Widely celebrated for revitalizing French animation with his legendary ‘Kirikou’ films based on African folklore, Ocelot promises to once again transport viewers into a magical world full of wonder and adventure.
A restoration of the 1975 Argentine classic ‘Trapito,’ by Argentine animator Manuel García Ferré, will be screened as well.
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 were previously spread out over the city.
Now that the film locations are more somewhat more concentrated around Corrientes Avenue, maybe the cinefile spirit will return.
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.
You can check the schedule on the link below to find out about tickets this year.
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.
Films in the full-length international competition:
And, Towards Happy Alleys / Kucheye khoshbakht / Muy feliz by Sreemoyee Singh — INDIA, 2023, 73’
Blondi/Blondie, by Dolores Fonzi — Argentina / USA/ SPAIN, 2023, 87’
Education and Nationalism / Kyôiku to aikoku / Educación y nacionalismo, by Hisayo Saika — JAPAN, 2022, 107’
El Santo/The Saint by Juan Agustín Carbonere — ARGENTINA, 2023, 86’
Índia, by Telmo Churro — PORTUGAL, 2022, 123’
La sudestada/ Southern Storm Daniel Casabé & Edgardo Dieleke ARGENTINA, 2023, 88’
Las demás, by Alexandra Hyland — CHILE 2023, 81’
Le Parfum vert / The Green Perfume / El perfume verde, by Nicolas Pariser FRANCE 2022, 101’
Muertes y maravillas, by Diego Soto — CHILE, 2023, 70’
Notas sobre un verano, by Diego Llorente — SPAIN, 2023, 83’
Una claustrocinefilia / A Claustrocinephilia, by Alessandro Aniballi — ITALY 2022, 85’
Upon Entry, Alejandro Rojas — SPAIN, 2022, 74’
Zanox – Risks and Side Effects / Zanox – Kockázatok és mellékhatások / Zanox – Riesgos y efectos secundarios by Benő Baranyi — HUNGARY, 2022, 89’
⇒ 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 2023
Apr 19 — 30 2023
• Cost: free—$$ (students and seniors with I.D. get discounts)
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 and see the line-up of films, check the Vivamos Cultura website.
They can also be purchased in person at the following box office locations from April 11:
Arthaus – Bartolomé Mitre 434
Centro Cultural San Martín – Sarmiento 1551 – 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Centro Cultural San Martín – Sarmiento 1551
Cine Cosmos – Av. Corrientes 2046
Cine Lorca – Av. Corrientes 1428
Espacio INCAA Cine Gaumont – Av. Rivadavia 1635
Multiplex Lavalle – Lavalle 780
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!
Theater & Event Locations
Anfiteatro del Parque Centenario
Centro Cultural 25 de Mayo
Cine Gaumont (INCAA)
Cine Multiplex Monumental Lavalle
El Cultural San Martín
Museo del Cine
Sala Leopoldo Lugones
Autocine Costanera Sur
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