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Thread: THE FILMS OF RAYMUNDO GLEYZER (Facets Video Boxset)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Raymundo Gleyzer was born in Argentina in 1941. He was the son of an Ukranian immigrant who founded a popular Yiddish theater group. However, Raymundo's vocation was the cinema and he put it at the service of his socialist and increasingly revolutionary ideology. He began to direct documentary shorts at the age of 21. Most of these were broadcasted regularly on Argentinean TV during the 60s, when the country was experiencing relative freedom of expression. Many of these shorts are ethnographic.

    For instance Ceramiqueros de tras la Sierra (1966) concerns inhabitants of a mountainous region of the province of Cordoba who produce an indigenous style of pottery. The filmmaking is very polished, with a combination of voice-over and interviews. It provides a detailed account of the life and art of these pottery makers living in a very remote area of Argentina.

    Another documentary included in the set is titled Our Malvinas Islands, about life in the island archipelago renamed Falklands by the British, who regard it as their territory since an invasion in 1833. Although the thrust of the film is educational, the implication is that the islands belong to Argentina. Recuperation of sovereignty seems more unlikely now than it did in 1966 when Gleyzer made this film.

    This magnificent 3-disc boxset released in 2008 by Facets Video takes the title of Gleyzer's best-known documentary. The fact that it deals with the betrayal of the spirit of the Mexican Revolution speaks volumes about Gleyzer's affiliation and identification with all of Latin America's revolutionary movements. The film is Mexico: The Frozen Revolution (1970). It was banned in Mexico and most of Latin America for many years. I will comment on a forthcoming post here.

    If you like labels, you can call Raymundo Gleyzer: Cinema's Che Guevara. If you prefer fiction films, start with his legendary The Traitors (1973), his rigorous, skillful fictionalization of the life of Jose Ignacio Rucci. He was a committed union organizer who became increasingly corrupted and compromised. The Traitors had to be smuggled out of Argentina after the military coup during the 70s and finally emerged in the 1990s. It is almost a miracle that the film remains in viewable condition, expertly subtitled in English, and available on DVD thanks to the visionary people at Facets. If there is a film that comes to mind while watching The Traitors, it would be Costa Gavras' State of Siege and Z. Ultimately, The Traitors provides compelling argument for the necessity of violent revolution in order to improve the lives of Argentina's poor and working classes. The film includes seamless insertion of 1950s and 1960s documentary footage of efforts to organize workers and form viable unions, and the resulting institutional repression.

    Raymundo Gleyzer is one of thousands of Argentinians who were arrested and murdered by the military Junta. He was seen last on May 27th, 1976. It is highly likely he was heavily sedated and thrown off an airplane flying over the Atlantic. That was the common procedure to make revolutionaries "disappear". Luckily, his legacy remains in these excellent films.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 08-06-2009 at 12:19 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Ottawa Canada
    Excellent. Much thanks for that.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Thanks for visiting Filmleaf's ghetto. Please come again.


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