English title: Blows of the Axe, which refers to the 1950s practice by Argentine distributors of chopping up film prints to prevent people from stealing and illegally projecting them (according to an interview with di Tella in Idiom, google that, can’t make the link work).
Exciting film that Argentinian director di Tella has made about the avant garde film director Claudio Caldini, whose work he is bringing back from oblivion, reluctantly agreed upon by Caldini, a true filmmaker, you can see, categorized as an experimental filmmaker, always been a problematic term ”experimental”, why not talk about ”free film”, as Caldini worked without any money and says to his colleague di Tella (who is quite the opposite, an intellectual filmmaker) that the best film he has made, he made without thinking, just doing.
Di Tella lets the camera rest for long time on the face of Caldini, who since 2004 has lived in General Rodriquez, far West of Buenos Aires. Slowly he gets words out of the filmmaker, his story, mostly from when he left the Argentinian dictatorship to India, suffering there from hallucinations with hospitalisation, making films in between, on super-8, coming back moving from place to place in Argentina.
Caldini opens his boxes with films, di Tella makes him reconstruct how he made his film (look at the photo), they go to classes that Caldini holds in
Buenos Aires, they screen some of them in his house… ”home movies” says di Tella, ”homeless movies”, says Caldini. But they also go to screen (on three projectors) his films in public, for the first time in 20 years.
You are in good company with the two filmmakers. You are invited to intimate conversations, in almost darkness, you experience Caldini’s subtle sense of humour, and you see the respectful way di Tella puts it all together. The director has also written a book, same title, about Caldini, it exists in Spanish language. From there (translated by Aaron Cutler, in connection with the Idiom interview) this beautiful text:
A man brings all his work, all his life, inside a small leather bag purchased in India, on a train that goes from Moreno to General Rodriguez, by the western suburbs of Buenos Aires. They are the originals of his films, all in Super 8, an obsolete format, in danger of extinction, which does not allow the films to be copied. This bag is like the manuscript of his autobiography. It tells of Claudio Caldini, caretaker of a suburban villa, secret filmmaker.
Argentina, 2011, 83 mins.