A teacher and students get ready for basic medical care in A Place Called Los Pereyra.
A PLACE CALLED LOS PEREYRA (Andrés Livov-Macklin) Rating: NNNN
Shot in the stark, uninflected direct-cinema mode of Frederick Wiseman or Allan King, A Place Called Los Pereyra takes us to a tiny village in northern Argentina during the one week of the year when the locals welcome visitors from the outside.
How remote is Los Pereyra? It's in a region of Argentina called El Impenetrable, deep in Chaco Province. There's no telephone service or electricity, and the journey there is arduous enough to discourage most people.
One group that does go is a small platoon of medical students and professors who venture from Buenos Aires every year to give checkups to the children and basic medical care to the adults. Because they're all women, they're known as the Godmothers, and in 2007 director Andrés Livov-Macklin came along to document their visit.
A Place Called Los Pereyra straddles the stylistic divide between conventional documentary and ethnographic portrait, so that rather than being shown things, we're led to understand them. The village is dying; the old ways don't work as well as they used to. The deep cultural gap between the children of Los Pereyra and the young medical students makes it feel like they've arrived from another dimension. And as the final frames of Livov-Macklin's simple, resonant documentary suggest, they might as well have.
Screens Friday through Monday (July 9-12) at the Royal.