Aerial (La Antena), a film by Esteban Sapir

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After first few minutes of “La Antena” revealed itself, I didn’t know what to say. I only knew that I was in for a ride through an all too familiar surreal version of our own world. “La Antena” is an amazing spectacle of sight and sound. The film is done in silent film fashion with influences of German Expressionism with high regards to Spain’s Bunel, Germany’s Lang, Murnau and France’s Méliès. Accompanied with an exhilarating modern tango soundtrack from Juan Aguirre and Federico Rotstein, it dances across the screen, communicating with fashioned visual words that emit and resonate from the characters mouths. You will see words get squashed, pushed aside, obliterated and float away—much like an animated comic book. It is the second feature from Argentina’s acclaimed director Esteban Sepir; his last films were 1996’s “Picado Fino” and the honest documentary, 2004’s Shakira: Live and Off the Record

Set in an undisclosed time and place ‘The City without a Voice’, whose inhabitants have lost their voices to the sinister Mr. TV, live their daily lives in an eternal snow and are subjected to controlled Television programming and must even eat a mind-numbing TV dinner. However, this is not enough for Mr. TV—he wants their minds as well. So he and his henchman create a hypnotizing device to control all the citizens’ minds through his television broadcasts. For this purpose, he kidnaps the only one left with The Voice, a beautiful, faceless singer, but a TV repairman witnesses the kidnapping and uncovers the plot with his father, daughter and the singer’s eyeless son, who also has a voice. Together they find a way to foil TV’s plan but it will take a journey to the city’s original abandoned broadcasting antenna, which is miles away.

This was the most original film that I have seen since last years “Pan’s Labyrinth”. What was even more amazing was that the budget was estimated at $1.5 million, quite a bit of money in Argentina, but not for Hollywood. It just proves that you do not need $60 million dollars to do a film, especially one of quality. On a critical note, some viewers will be overwhelmed by the fast pace of the screenplay. Plus, with so many metaphors, one might have difficulty keeping up with what is actually going on. The production crew, headed by Daniel Gimelberg, brings out Esteban Sepir’s imagination in full throttle.

At the Q and A, Executive Producer, Gonzalo Agulla provided few answers regarding Director Sepir’s imagination, but nonetheless the film is to be interpreted by a thinking audience. His honesty, however, was admirable in stating the film had not been a box office success in Argentina but that should not deem the film a failure. It has garnered many awards throughout Europe and was the first film to be chosen, for the first time in 36 years, for the official competition and opening of the Rotterdam Film Festival. I highly recommend it.

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Weak: 1 Star   Average: 2 Stars   Good: 3 Stars   Very Good: 4 Stars   Excellent: 5 Stars

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About Author

Michael Macdonald

Michael MacDonald is student majoring in animation at The Art Institute of California, Los Angeles. In younger days he was a Film Studies major at The University of Colorado at Boulder. He has been an assistant manager of a movie theater and has spent some time in the U.S. Army. He has always enjoyed the captivating power of film and lives for those moments when art hits home and really makes you feel.

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