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The Practice (and Other Works) By Martín Rejtman

The Practice, the new film by Martín Rejtman (b.1961), reaffirms his singular place in Argentine and world cinema as one of the rare auteurs working, with innovative brio and sophistication, within the realm of comedy. Beginning with his now classic debut Rapado, Rejtman’s narrative features have each added formal complexity and philosophical depth to that often-dismissed broad genre category through wryly detached, yet richly humorous, stories centered around heroes and heroines trying to retrieve something they have unexpectedly lost—be it an object, a relationship, youth or even identity itself. The Practice thus uses its narrative of a yoga instructor reevaluating his life and work as he deals with a divorce and a torn meniscus, among other complications, to offer a gently comic portrait of late midlife crisis shaped by Rejtman’s signature and carefully choreographed minimalist, deadpan style. With its emphasis, often refracted by humor, on the meaning of sustained physical and mental routine, The Practice may also be taken as a meditation on the rigor and restraint guiding Rejtman’s practice as a director who, like Bresson, Ozu and Tati before him, uses extended rehearsals to define the ideal cadence, rhythm and movement of dialogue, gestures and bodies. Also like the work of these filmmakers, Rejtman’s films diffuse their narrative meaning across their meticulous mise-en-scène, rendering dialogue and characters only one element within a larger and subtly polyvalent world in which seemingly minor objects and gestures exert a major presence, and in which exits and entrances seem to have as much meaning as the characters who pass through them.  

To celebrate Rejtman’s new film and the longer arc of his remarkable career, this program includes two now classic early works recognized as highlights of the New Argentine Cinema—Rapado and Silvia Prieto—together with his wonderful recent short film, Shakti. After the screening of the digitally restored Silvia Prieto, he will be joined by Carlos Gutiérrez, co-founder and Executive Director of Cinema Tropical, the pioneering US distributor of Latin American film and early champion of Rejtman’s films. Gutiérrez's visit is an also an occasion to celebrate the HFA's recent acquisition of the Cinema Tropical Collection comprised of 35mm English-subtitled release prints from the distribution catalogue. – Haden Guest