Films & Schedules

  • Salamandra

  • Pablo Agüero

91 minutes

Production Company:
JBA Productions/ Rohfilm
Jacques Bidou, Marianne Dumoulin
Pablo Agüero
Production Designer:
María Eva Duarte
Hélène Louvart
Jacques Comets
Daniel Iribarren, Federico Billordo, Jean-Guy Véran
Principal Cast: Joaquín Aguila, Dolores Fonzi, John Cale, Daniel Fanego

International Sales Agent:
Films Distribution

Thursday September 1110:00PM JACKMAN HALL - AGO Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 1303:15PM VARSITY 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Cinematic experiences are seldom quite as satisfying as Pablo Agüero's first feature, Salamandra. In a film loaded with a wealth of meaning and observations that transcend its narrative, Agüero's unconventional storytelling techniques, exquisite camerawork and orchestral style create a compelling picture of childhood.

Six-year-old Inti (Joaquín Aguila) is learning to spell, and beginning to decipher the strange codes of communication that fill the adult world. He is given a crash course in life when his mother Alba (Dolores Fonzi) suddenly returns from prison after Argentina's “Dirty War,” and takes him from the shelter of his grandmother's apartment to El Bólson, a hippie commune in Patagonia.

They stay first with Dick Winter (played by enigmatic Velvet Underground founder John Cale), whose home is brimming with strange people and animals. Life here is chaotic, and Agüero orchestrates an almost mystical atmosphere using a symphony of surrounding sounds and startling imagery: nature, people humming and the whir of machinery. Navigating this bizarre new world, Inti acquires his survival kit for life.

Yet the journey does not end here. Floundering Alba is still searching for her utopia and an answer to the muddle in her head. Looking for privacy and comfort, she rents a cabin in the valley, but soon feels even more vulnerable among the region's peasants. Here we become acutely aware of the extent of Alba's internal contradictions and confusion – she chain-locks the door to stay her anxiety about the cabin's security, yet mends a broken window with a flimsy piece of plastic.

Intense and atmospheric, Salamandra invites a visceral response. Layered with meaning and subtle suggestion, this powerful debut offers us a child's perspective on the insanity of the world in which we live.

Diana Sanchez

Pablo Agüero was born in El Bolsón in Patagonia, Argentina. His short films include Lejos del Sol (05) and Primera Nieve (06), which won the Jury Prize for best short film at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Salamandra (08) is his first feature.

Cadillac People's Choice Award