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International Programme 2012
The River People Martin Benchimol, Pablo Aparo

A small town in Argentina straight from a novel by Márquez: the young people are gone and the alleys are haunted. It’s the river people, the old ones say...

The River People

Documentary Film
70 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Martin Benchimol, CaravanaCine
Martin Benchimol, Pablo Aparo
Martin Benchimol
Pablo Aparo
Martin Benchimol, Pablo Aparo
Ernestina – the residents enjoy the pleasant sound of the name of their small town near Buenos Aires. Their Ernestina seems like a pearl of tranquillity. But the oldest town in the district is also the most deserted. Ernestina is shrinking, almost no one is left but the elderly, and they seem to have one foot in the past and one in the present day. Nobody can or wants to imagine tomorrow.
Things are seething under the idyllic surface. Many institutions have been vandalised. It was the river people, everyone agrees. As for the rest, every resident has their own interpretation of the strange goings-on in Ernestina. There’s been a security guard with a baseball cap and gun watching over the nocturnal calm lately. Where did he come from? No one knows for sure. And yet he has become the lonely defender of the main square against the phantoms from the river – and the wind. You can literally read the story of the place in the faces of the interviewees in this film. Each one represents an aspect of the Ernestina of the past: the shop, the church, the theatre, the camping ground, or the hotel, whose beautiful tiled floor recalls its former heyday. Their stories combine to create the atmospheric picture of a place where the clocks were stopped to make way for a multitude of realities. The setting of a novel by Gabriel García Márquez might look like Ernestina.
– Lars Meyer