It’s been nearly a week since Hot Docs 2012 shut up shop, and if you’re anything like us, you’re already in search of your next non-fiction fix. Happily, the Projection Booth has you covered. Beginning this evening and running through May 17, the Gerrard Street rep house will host a series of screenings of A Place Called Los Pereyra, from Argentinean-Canadian filmmaker Andrés Livov-Macklin.
Originally premiering on 2009’s festival circuit, Livov-Macklin’s debut doc is a direct cinema portrait in the style of celebrated Canadian directors Pierre Perrault and Allan King. Its subjects are the impoverished inhabitants of the titular village in a remote region of Argentina, where, for a week each year, a troop of young do-gooders—affectionately known as “Godmothers”—arrive from Buenos Aires to tend to the town’s children.
Outside visits are exceptionally rare in Los Pereyra, which is without electricity or telephone service, and the Godmothers’ annual missions have a transformative effect. Where, normally, the town’s solitary pair of teachers must remind parents of the importance of sending their kids to school, the Godmothers’ brief stay suggests the possibility of something more—a future that transcends the parents’ humble routines of hardscrabble agricultural toil.
But the transformation is manifestly temporary. For all their evident goodwill, we come to understand that the Godmothers’ privileged lives are effectively worlds beyond most Los Pereyrans’ aspirations. Perhaps implicitly, we sense it’s an understanding the townsfolk share. This by no means negates the legitimate joy bestowed by the Godmothers’ charitable deeds, but it does lend Livov-Macklin’s delicately observed film a bittersweet resonance.