Maestros Milongueros is a documentary film by Argentine screenwriter/director Bebe Kamin that was in production for six months in 2004. I heard about the film three years ago when a milonga included a rare presentation. It is not available commercially.
The Academia de Estilos de Tango Argentino existed only three years to preserve and share the knowledge of the old milongueros with the younger generation of dancers in a scholarship program. The film documents the classes of Gerardo Portalea, Pupy Castello, Osvaldo and Coca Cartery, Margarita Serrantes, Roberto Colombo and Chiquita, and Carlos Gavito in conversation, demonstration, and teaching. I first learned about the existence of ACETA in November 2007, in the announcement for the last graduation presentation.
La Nacion published a story about the film during production that milongueros are teaching their secrets. The problem is the film is being kept a secret.
I knew I could see the film on August 2 at the Carlos Gardel Museum from a B.A. Tango news update. The city’s cultural agenda had an announcement. The Museum patio isn’t very large, but there was enough seating for 25 who came for the free presentation. I saw only one familiar face from the milongas.
There was a delay waiting for director Kamin to arrive and make a few remarks before presentation. I’m sorry that he didn’t stay around, because I wanted to ask him why the documentary is kept a secret. The film was finished by 2006, and I heard about it for the first time in 2009. It’s never been shown at theaters or even a tango festival in Buenos Aires.
Maestros Milongueros is a closely guarded gem that deserves more attention in the tango world. Years of work went into this 78-minute documentary with English subtitles. It’s not an interview with demonstration like Practimilonguero. The milongueros interact with students in a unique cultural program that lasted only three years.