Bad Connection (Malayunta)

Institute History

  • 1988 Sundance Film Festival


Apart from its celebrated tradition of mainsteam narrative cinema, Argentina has also maintained a strong current of allegorical filmmaking, bordering upon the surreal, which Malayunta aptly represents. Made during the 1985-86 period when so many Argentine films began to come to terms with the horrors of the past, Santiso astutely blends the public and private into a fable of aberration and repression.

Closely drawn from the play whose title Pater Noster plays upon the associations of authority, Malayunta traces the arrival of a seemingly upright couple as boarders in the apartment of an utterly eccentric and antisocial sculptor. As the sculptor’s unconventional lifestyle and artistic temperament begin to grate on the couple’s nerves, they react with a punitive morality which suggests both the pernicious repression of the family and the fatal retaliations of the state.

Argentina is a world center of psychoanalytic theory and practice, so Santiso owes no debt to Bertolucci or other Europeans in his careful linking of the sexual and the political. His film is most striking in its ability to maintain two threads of discourse simultaneously: the revenge of the moralists upon the artist becomes at once an allegory of Argentine history under the junta and an index of the power of the father in a patriarchy run amok. Santiso himself comes to film from theatre, where he directed a number of plays and then made short films before this feature debut.

based on Lansner’s play

— Tony Safford

Screening Details

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