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Zama, presented by Marfa Book Co.
November 22, 2019 @ 8:00 pm
in front of us film series presents: “Zama” by Lucrecia Martel. Described by film historian Haden Guest as “one of the most prodigiously talented filmmakers in contemporary world cinema,” Martel is the director of four features, several short films and a few television episodes. You can see the trailer for Zama, her most recent feature, here. There has been a lot of writing about Martel’s work, but one piece that I recommend for “Zama” is Esther Allen’s article for NYRB. “Zama” is based on the novel of the same name, published in Argentina in the 1950s, by the author Antonio Di Benedetto. Allen translated Di Benedetto’s novel into English for the NYRB Classics Series and so has an interesting perspective on the nature of its shifts from language to language and text to film.
In one of the most intriguing passages in the essay, Allen writes:
In 2012, when I was deep in many rounds of revisions of my translation, I learned that Martel was working on Zama, too. I watched La Ciénaga (2001) and La Niña Santa (2004) and marveled at the degree to which her films resembled Di Benedetto’s prose. In moments of doubt and frustration over what was happening in Don Diego’s spiraling tangle of words, I would ponder the strange confluences between Martel and Di Benedetto and imagine what she might be creating out of the same elusive lines. Before it even existed, her Zama had an impact on my understanding and translation of Di Benedetto’s.