La Cienaga

Institute History

  • 1999 Sundance NHK Filmmaker Award


February in the northwest of Argentina can be uncomfortably hot and humid. Bodies become sluggish and sticky, while tensions rise. The sun cracks the earth. Tropical rains cause swampy terrain-deadly traps for heavier animals, but a hotbed for happy vermin. Mecha is a 50-something-years-old woman with four accident-prone teenagers, a husband who dyes his hair and the tedious problem of sullen servants. Nothing that a few drinks can't cure. As Tali is Mecha's cousin. She has four noisy small children. Her husband loves his house, loves his kids, and loves to hunt. They live in a house with no pool in a city called La Ciénaga. Far from the city heat, Mecha and her family spend their summers at La Mandragora, a country estate whose glory has long faded. The water in the pool is dirty, but it can still offer some relief. Simply dealing with everyday life is difficult enough, especially since summer can be a time full of futile bloodshed—injuries of the flesh, as well as internal bleeding. An accident reunites the two families at La mandragora, where they will attempt to survive a summer from hell.


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