“The witness”: reliable documentary about Osvaldo Bayer

“The witness”: reliable documentary about Osvaldo Bayer

Cordoban journalist Norma Fernández, a friend of the author of “La Patagonia Rebel” for years, makes a portrait of the writer in four periods of his life

Towards the end of “The rebellious Patagonia”, when they sing to Colonel Varela that “for he’s a jolly good fellow”, a brief shot of two very satisfied ranchers appears on the side of the meeting. It is a joke. Is about Hector Oliverathe director, and Osvaldo Bayer, the scriptwriter, who with his presence approves the work. That was the first time Bayer appeared on screen.

It’s 1974, and “Truce” and “The rebellious Patagonia” They top the box office, surpassing Hollywood tanks. But in 1975 the screenwriter and the protagonist, Hector Alterio, They must leave the country, threatened by Triple A. And even before the coup of ’76, the film had gone out of circulation. Ten years must have passed for the writer to reappear on the screen. This time, in a German documentary Carlos Echeverría: “Osvaldo Bayer. “Exile and return”. It was 1984, and it showed how his colleagues looked at him with indifference, they didn’t give him a place.

He resumes his usual research and conferences, and the profession of librettist. He collaborates with Jeanine Meerapfel (“The Friend”awarded in San Sebastián), the Rio Negros Echeverría (“Juan, as if nothing had happened”) and Ciro Cappellari (“Amor América”, “Unwanted”)the duo Céspedes and Guarini (“Jaime de Nevares. Last Journey”, about the bishop of the Patagonian poor) and the new generations of documentary filmmakers who want to tell the “other story, the true story,” as the song of Lito Nebbia then in vogue.

At that point, Bayer He is a hero of old anarchism, libertarian socialism, a word that today has a different kind of connotation. But he looks too serious. Until Eduardo Montes Bradley in a joyful documentary, “The Helmsman’s Tales”changes his face a little, making him remember his shipping adventures on the Rhine and other funny anecdotes, without losing a bit of respect.

Now, half a century after “The rebellious Patagonia” and the banning of his books, Bayerwho died in 2018, is evoked in “The witness”a compilation by the journalist from Córdoba Norma Fernandez, her friend for many years. Using a fixed camera, she recorded him on four occasions: 1991, still without a beard, 1993, and later, 2001 and 2017, now in his nineties, with a still firm voice but a slower voice.

The man is always the same. He talks about the failure of capitalism and communism, asks to recover the ethics of Christianity, the thought of Malatesta and Bakuninwhich he considers close to ChristHe is a friend of the father Farinello, and at the same time he shows himself more than understanding with the exalted anarchists, the gun, knife and bomb vindicators. He is an unforgiving critic of the so-called Conquest of the Desert (“the expert Moreno prepared the invasion”exaggerates), repeating old obsessions already known for a long time.

The record becomes more interesting when it evokes the reading of “The Sorrows of Young Werther” At the age of 12, he boasts of the translation he did with one of his children, comments on his novel “Rainer and Minou”, about the love between a Jewish girl and the son of a Nazi officer (Meerapfel made a good film with the same approach, “The German friend”) and is amazed at the Mothers’ violent repudiation of the conciliatory proposal of that book. Norma Fernandez is limited to providing a brief location for each chapter, and giving the footer to Bayer so that he speaks without interruptions, as appropriate. At most, every now and then he puts some illustration, and that is enough.

“The witness” (Argentina, 2024). Director: Norma Fernández, Documentary.

Source: Ambito

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