Rafael Filipelli’s Kidnapping and Death opened the 12-day festival on Wednesday night.

The 12th Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival (BAFICI) opened last night (April 7) with Rafael Filipelli’s Kidnapping and Death (Secuestro y Muerte), a  95-minute political feature that helps set the tone for the coming 12 days. It was an overdue accolade for one of the Argentine Cinema movement’s founding fathers.

Although artistic director and programmer Sergio Wolf did not say it outright at the opening night festivities at 25 de Mayo Theatre located in the Villa Urquiza district, it was his conscious decision to kick off the festival with such a slant. Recent history means Argentines are still coming to terms with the aftershocks from the 1976-198 military dictatorship and the disappearance of 30,000 people; in addition, President Cristina Kirchner’s particular brand of populist Peronist policies combined with spiraling inflation are a current cause for discomfort.

Wolf said of the Argentina Official Selection: “It should be noted that the films in this category stress politics as a particular perspective… and politics once again marks BAFICI’s Argentine cinema.”

Kidnapping and Death subtly recounts the final 72 hours in Argentine General Aramburu’s life following his kidnapping and subsequent trial at the hands of teenage Peronist Monteneros guerrillas in 1970. Set in the claustrophobic basement of a country home, neither Aramburu or his judge and jury are directly named and although the film is based on true events, according to Filipelli, Kidnapping and Death has been fictionalised substantially.

This year’s BAFICI will present 422 full-length and short films with Argentina representing 44 and 42 respectively; 59 features were selected in 2009. Two documentaries and one fictitious work from five Argentine directors making their debut are competing in the 19-strong, Official International Selection category: Sebastián Martínez’s Downtown (Centro), Delfina Castagnino’s What I Love The Most (Lo que más quiero); and The Peddler (El ambulanter) by Eduardo de la Serna, Lucas Marcheggiano and Adriana Yurcovich are up against Adam Elliot’s Mary and Max, the Safdie brothers‘ Go Get Some Rosemary(Daddy Longlegs) and Red Dragonflies by Liao Jiekai among others.

Although there can only be one winner out of the 13 features in the Official Argentina Selection category, young guns Santiago Loza and Iván Fund’s The Lips (Los Labios) and the veteran 2007 BAFICI winner Raúl Perrone’s The Daily Acts (Los Actos Cotidiando) are attracting considerable attention.

Although there aren’t any new programme additions to this 12th edition, Baficito (Little BAFICI), the children’s section which launched in 2009 and allows kids to make shorts which are shown towards the end of the festival, includes a tribute for the first time. That honour goes to the Danish director Jannik Hastrup for City Mice (1998), The Boy Who Wanted to be a Bear (2002), and A Tale of Two Moses (2007).

More than 245,000 spectators attended 1,069 functions in 2009, and on Wednesday, more than 25 screenings had already sold out by lunchtime, making it likely that viewing figures will once again be broken this year.

The 12th BAFICI closes on April 18 with Spanish director Isaki lacuesta’s The Damned (Los condenados).