El Cine Quema: Program 3

Shorts program, running time 125 min.

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They Kill Me If I Don’t Work, And If I Work, They Kill Me / Me Matan Si No Trabajo Y Si Trabajo Me Matan
Raymundo Gleyzer, 1974, 16mm-to-digital, 20 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles

They Kill Me is a white-hot exposé of toxic working conditions at the INSUD metallurgical factory in the partido of La Matanza, just outside Buenos Aires. Gleyzer and his crew sit with workers while they recount workplace abuses and sing darkly comic songs around the communal pot (“The company fills us with lead / And the police too”). The poisoning suffered by the workers propels them towards a bitter and ultimately successful strike. The film is dedicated to attorney and labor advocate Rodolfo Ortega Peña, who provided legal defense to the workers and was murdered by the paramilitary Alianza Anticomunista Argentina (or “Triple A”) for it. Like most of Gleyzer’s later work, They Kill Me ends with a call for its viewers to take up arms and join the struggle against capitalism.

The Traitors / Los Traidores
Raymundo Gleyzer, 1973, 16mm-to-digital, 105 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles

Gleyzer’s sole fiction film is at once a genre thriller, a searing condemnation of the United States’ interference in Southern Cone politics, and dark foreshadowing of the CIA-backed coup that would lead to his own murder. The Traitors follows a corrupt trade unionist named Barrera (Víctor Proncet) who stages his own kidnapping to win an election – a composite of multiple labor leaders, including one, José Ignacio Rucci, who was assassinated while the film was in production. Blending farcical satire, the political intrigue of smoke-filled-rooms, and snatches of proletarian life, The Traitors is an eerie and essential potboiler comparable to Mexico for probing the hypocrisy of powerful men building populist empires on the backs of exploited workers.

Total running time: 125 min.