By: Sabina Dana Plasse

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2024 REVIEW! Documentarians Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw hone their craft and considerable skills in Gaucho Gaucho. In the Salta region of northwest Argentina, it’s as if time stands still. It is a type of barren desert land similar to the high desert of the American West until you see the gauchos, in slow motion, ride through with an unexpected life force. They’re on simple saddles and bridles, moving back and forth and turning on a dime yelling in their native language as if a fall is inevitable. Within a flash of a moment, the documentary presents heritage, tradition, distinction, and people connected to the land and being.

To embody the spirit of a culture and custom, Dweck and Kershaw immersed themselves into an intriguing and mystifying world. By doing this, the filmmakers honor the area’s innate poetic beauty, so they decided to make the film in black and white, which elevates the film as a distinguished story about a place and people all to its own.

“…built through the intersection of several generations of gauchos, revealing the gaucho culture full circle…”

The film opens with a gaucho lying on his horse. This rare sight, described as bonding, adds to the connection these men and women have to their purpose and the land. The use of slow motion in many riding sequences provides an insight into a tradition passed down through generations and never lost. These people are filmed in sequences in a cinema verité style where we are dropped into their lives in conversation, at a meal, sipping mate, burning a cactus, taming a horse, or sharpening knives by stone.

The arc of Gaucho Gaucho is built through the intersection of several generations of gauchos, revealing the culture full circle. A father and his two teenage boys, as well as a father and daughter, and an elderly gaucho, reminisce on this life. Within these interwoven vignettes are women who sew the clothes, mothers, and wives who care for their families, an elderly townsman who keeps the gaucho community informed, and the gauchos who run the land and keep their herds alive.

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