A heads up: another film I saw in Gijón last year, El Movimiento, is currently available to watch on Mubi UK (films stay on that platform for 30 days) – here. After my original viewing last November (without subtitles), I wrote that:
Set in Argentina in 1835 (by weird coincidence the same year that Aferim! is set) in the aftermath of what the festival catalogue tells me was the emancipation war of the Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata, a fratricidal conflict develops while the new administration settles in. Several armed groups are wandering the Pampa, looking for resources but each also claims to be the legitimate representative of El Movimiento. The leader of one of these groups, known simply as el Señor (Pablo Cedrón), presents himself with the language of idealism and the moral high ground but unleashes hideously violent acts via his henchmen. Shot in black and white, the film is visually very striking – the lighting is very high contrast (it mainly seemed to rely on light sources within the frame), casting jet-black shadows across the numerous close-ups of faces, and at times it looks almost like a painting. The soundtrack is also unusual given the era in which the film takes place because it includes electronic sounds (late in the film, a truck and a motorbike also cross the back of the frame) which build to a low rumbling threat – it becomes quite oppressive.
I re-watched it the other night (it’s only 70 minutes) and would recommend catching it while it’s on Mubi – the running time makes it unlikely to get a theatrical release in the UK. I’m glad that I caught up with it again. I have also found a video of a Q&A (in English) with writer-director Benjamín Naishtat at a screening in New York.