Martel’s first feature film La Ciénaga/The Swamp caused controversy in Argentina. However, the film brought her wide international attention and critical acclaim. According to Falicov, she has been singled out as the most original voice amongst the New Independent Argentine cinema directors (the mid 1990s Argentine filmmakers’ generation of filmmakers, such as Pablo Trapero and Adrián Caetano). In an unusually confident for a debut film manner Martel employs gender and sexuality as a means to tackle numerous issues - from machismo to class and race. I shall argue that through her focus on family and domesticity Martel has exposed numerous forms of oppression not only against but also among women in Argentina and, by extension, in Latin America as a whole. As claimed by Stam and Shoat, gender and sexuality prove difficult to separate from issues of identity, class and race in Latin American film. I claim that in the hands of Martel this has been turned into an advantage. La Cienaga tells stories of oppression and identity fragmentations as they have never been told before. In her quirky, uncanny cinematic style Martel unveils hidden forms of marginalisation and mounting tensions, creating an atmosphere of impending tragedy that could be seen as allegory of the political and economic devastation of Argentina.
School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, Queen Mary, University of London, London, UK
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