12 Tangos: Adios Buenos Aires
GERMANY / 2005 / Spanish / Color / 35mm (1:1.85) / 86 min
Director, Script: Arne Birkenstock
Photography: Volker Noack
Editing: Felix Bach
Sound: Gaspar Scheuer
Music: Luis Borda
Producers: Arne Birkenstock, Thomas Springer, Helmut G. Weber
Production Companies: Fruitmarket—Kultur und Medien GmbH, Tradewind Pictures Production
World Sales: media luna entertainment
The end of the 19th century through the early 20th century. Over six million people emigrate from Europe to South America, and Argentina is born. And now the 21st century: After the economic devastation of 2002, their descendants traverse the opposite route back to Europe in search of work, relying on their ancestors’ passports. This film powerfully intermingles tango music infused with sadness, despair, and love for one’s homeland together with the lives of two women who have decided to travel to Europe and an elderly dancer who once graced the world’s stages. Composer and guitarist Luis Borda gathered some of Argentina’s finest musicians to perform the tango pieces in this film, including 92-year-old Maria de la Fuente; the top tango singer of today, according to Rolling Stone magazine, Lidia Borda; and legendary bandoneón player José Libertella, who passed away shortly after the shooting of this film.
[Director’s Statement] 12 Tangos: Adios Buenos Aires is an approach to the soul of the tango. This may sound exaggerated, but it is simply an attempt to free the tango from the cliché of “red-light districts, machismo, and women,” and to concentrate on its essence: the dance of people who have been driven to the point at which they are convinced that their home country offers them no prospects, and who are prepared to leave their native environments for an uncertain future abroad. The stories of Roberto, Marcela, and Fabiana tell us more about the soul and essence of tango than many of the historical and theoretical discourses that I have read, heard, or indeed written myself. All their humor, their sadness, and their fateful spirits enter into the film and are connected with the lyrics, music, and dance steps of twelve wonderful tango tunes. In a way the film is meant to be like a good tango: comic and melancholic, poetic and powerful, tender and rough at the same time.
Our 12 Tangos has been well received by German cinema audiences, and I am very happy that the YIDFF is now giving the film such a wonderful start in Japan. Japan surely has the biggest and liveliest tango scene outside Europe and Latin America; I hope they enjoy our film as much as their fellow tangueros in my country.
Writer and filmmaker, born in 1967. He studied economics, Spanish, Portuguese, and political science in Germany and Argentina and holds a master’s degree in Latin American Studies. Since 1994, he has worked as a freelance journalist, writer, and director. He has directed several feature-length documentaries for public broadcasters and published books and articles on tango, Latin American music, and arts policy. As an instructor he works for several art and film schools in Germany. With his production company Fruitmarket, founded in 2004, he produced 12 Tangos. Birkenstock recently finished directing a documentary series on German foreign exchange students in China and Grand Format, about German soldiers who are trained to work as kindergarten teachers. In 2008 he will direct a feature-length documentary entitled Chandani: The Daughter of the Elephant Whisperer.