Camera Obscura
La Cámara Oscura

Argentina, 2008, 86 minutes, color/B&W
Spanish & Yiddish with English subtitles
Directed By María Victoria Menis

Cast: Mirta Bogdasarian, Fernando Armani, Patrick Dell'Isola, Carlos Defeo

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Public Exhibition Formats: 35mm, DVD, Beta

“Nietzsche found ugliness interesting and Kierkegaard was convinced that the ugliness enabled us to remember reality. The territory of ugliness is a place known only to those who live in it. With my camera I would like to open the frontier of that world, immerse myself in it, and discover its overwhelming beauty.”
- Director, María Victoria Menis




Grand Prize Pays de Caux International Latin Film Festival 2009
Best Film International Jewish Film Festival of Uruguay 2009
Honorable Mention Leipzig Argentine Film Festival 2009

Nominated for 8 Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards:
Best Film, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, New Actress, Best Supporting Actress Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Music

Selected Screenings

Spertus Institute, Chicago (2016)
Schenectady JCC Jewish Film Festival (2013)
Chicago YIVO Festival of Yiddish Culture (2012)
Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival (2011)
Columbia Jewish Film Festival (2011)
San Antonio Jewish Film Festival (2011)
Mexico International Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Milwaukee Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Berkshire Jewish Film Festival ( 2010)
Rochester Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Grand Rapids Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Harrisburg Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Berlin Jewish Film Festival (2010)
JCC Rockland International Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Pittsburgh Jewish Israeli Film Festival (2010)
Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival (2010)
New Jersey Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Pittsburgh Jewish Israeli Film Festival (2010)
Jacob Burns Film Center (2010)
Northwest Film Center, Portland OR (2010)
Lenore Marwil Jewish Film Festival of Metro Detroit (2010)
NCJF Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Sacramento Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Denver Jewish Film Festival 2010
San Diego Jewish Film Festival 2010
Contra Costa Jewish Film Festival 2010
McNay Art Museum, San Antonio 2010
accompanying 'TruthBeauty: Pictorialism and the Photography of Art'
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival 2010
Miami Jewish Film Festival 2010
Skirball Cultural Center 2009
Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival 2009
Washington Jewish Film Festival 2009
Beth Tzedec Jewish Film Festival 2009
Vancouver Jewish Film Festival 2009
Boston Jewish Film Festival 2009
Kansas City Latin America Cinema Festival 2009
San Diego Jewish Film Festival 2009
Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival 2009
Lincoln Center LatinBeat 2009
Jerusalem International Film Festival 2009
Toronto Jewish Film Festival 2009 -- Opening Night Film
Leipzig Argentine Film Festival (Germany) 2009
Pays de Caux International Latin Film Festival (Normandy, France) 2009
River Film Festival (Prague, Czechoslovakia) 2009
Oaxaca Latin American Film Festival (Mexico) 2009
International Jewish Film Festival of Uruguay 2009
Filmmor International Women's Film Festival on Wheels (Istanbul) 2009
Chicago Latino Film Festival 2009
Arab-Latin American Women Film Festival Cairo (Entre Cineastas) 2009
Caracas International Jewish Film Festival (Venezuela) 2009
Barcelona International Women’s Film Festival (Spain) 2009
Lleida Latin-American Film Festival (Spain) 2009
Viña del Mar International Film Festival (Chile) 2008
International Film Festival of India 2008


At the end of the 19th century, a baby girl is born only feet from the new world as a ship of immigrants docks in Buenos Aires harbor. Shy and self-conscious, Gertrudis grows up and into her role as the ugly duckling in a colony of Argentinean Jews. She fashions herself almost invisible, even hiding her face in photographs. After she is married off to an older, wealthy Jewish rancher, Gertrudis meets expectations and raises a family. The years pass and she finds solace in the beauty of everyday life, turning the tasks of setting the table or preparing a meal into aesthetic pursuits. One day her husband invites a gentle, nomadic French photographer to take a family portrait. His wondrous Surrealist photographs and uncompromising vision, allow Gertrudis to see herself for the first time.

A lyrical, inventive new feature film from award-winning Argentine director María Victoria Menis, Camera Obscura employs a number of visual innovations, including original Surrealist-inspired photographs and black-and-white films, archival World War I photographs, and hand-drawn color animation. The film-within-a-film sequences —fantasies drawn from the characters’ imaginations— were written by María Victoria Menis and Alejandro Fernández Murriay and designed and created by renowned Argentine artist-illustrator Rocambole (Ricardo Cohen). Beautifully shot on location, this luminous, remarkable film captures the rich landscape of Buenos Aires Province, and its fertile forests, fields, lagoons and rivers.

Based on a story of the same name by Argentinian writer Angélica Gorodischer published in The House of Mermory: Stories by Jewish Women Writers of Latin America edited by Marjorie Agosin

About the Director

Argentinean director and scriptwriter María Victoria Menis was born in Buenos Aires and graduated from Argentina's ENERC. Her first films were the shorts Vecinas (1984) and A qué hora (1985), which won two George Melies awards from the French Embassy in Argentina. Menis’s first feature film, The Patriotic Spirits (1989), won a number of awards including the Best First Feature Award from the Argentinean Film Critics Association, and Best First Feature from the Santa Fe Festival and the Bariloche Festival. She has written and directed numerous plays and television programs.

In 2004 Menis wrote and directed El Cielito, a touching story about the love between a child and his guardian. The feature film screened in over 60 international film festivals and garnered numerous prizes, including the FIPPRESCI prize at the Havana Film Festival, the Canal-Arte, CICAE and Signis Future Talent awards at the San Sebastian International Film Festival and the Special Jury and Best Male Leading Actor awards at the Biarritz Film Festival.

Menis currently teaches in the ENERC program at the University of Buenos Aires and at the Escuela de Cine de Avellaneda in Buenos Aires. She is at work on a new film project.

External Links

Filmmaker's Blog

English Press Kit (PDF)

French Press Kit (PDF)

Purchase the Film

Home Use DVD: $29.95

Does not include Classroom or Library Use Rights or Public Performance Rights. More Information


Classroom/Library Use DVD: $295

Does not include Public Performance Rights. More Information


Special Offer

Save 25% on Camera Obscura when you purchase it as part of the
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