The 25th Mar de Plata International Film Festival opened Saturday night with Sofia Coppola’s Venice winner Somewhere.

Given that Argentina is in its bicentenary year and the festival itself is celebrating silver anniversary, some had expected an Argentine film to open.

A short tribute to the finest Argentine works ahead of Somewhere moved the mainly local audience, including Candid (1939), Abasto Market (Mercado de Abasto) (1955), Pizza Beer Spliff (Pizza birra faso) (1997) and Nine Queens (Nueve Reinas) (2000) as well as Argentina‘s two Oscar winners The Official Story (La historia official) (1985) and The Secret In Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos) (2010).

The panel of five international competition jurors - Mario Canale, Román Guber, Ruy Guerra, Graciela Maglie and Dominique Sanda - have a 13-strong selection of films coming from Serbia, Russia, Taiwan, Romania and the Philippines among others. Directors competing in the category include Adolfo Borinaga Alix Jr.’s Chassis, Jerzy Skolimowski’s Essential Killing, Mong-Hong Chung’s The Fourth Portrait and three local films: Fernando Spiner’s Aballay, the Fearless Man (Aballay, el hombre sin miedo), Rosendo Ruiz’s Clubbing (De caravana) and Phase 7 (Fase 7) by Nicolás Goldbart, the latter which has been receiving good feedback from critics.

Although festival director José Martín Suárez, now in his third year in the role albeit at a sprightly 85, made little mention of the current state of Argentine cinema, giving a quick nod to this year’s Oscar winning director Juan José Campanella at the opening ceremony at the city’s Auditorium Theatre, INCAA national school of cinema and visual arts president Liliana Mazure had more to say.

“We’re very pleased to reach the 25-year mark with the Mar del Plata film festival which started in 1954, given that there weren’t any festivals held during the dictatorship (1976-1983). Therefore the 314 films showing this year demonstrates the progress we have made and the support we have invested. And over a third of those films at Mar del Plata - 40% - are Argentine.”

Mazure added: “In the past year, around 170 Argentine films have been made with 104 of those released in cinemas - now that is progress.”

Of the 13 features in the Argentina Selection category, former 2007 BAfici winners Tamae Garateguy and Santiago Giralt’s respective first and second solo features Pompeya and Before the Opening (Antes del estreno) are attracting attention, as is A King for Patagonia (Un rey para la Patagonia) by Lucas N. Turturro.

Mar del Plata runs through Nov 21.