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In 2008 I started filming at the former concentration camp Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada (ESMA, School of Mechanics of the Navy), with fear and with trembling, what would later become my film EL PREDIO. Perhaps I was the first one to enter that site with a camera and a desire to try utilize cinema in the construction of memory.

It was a period of transition, a fold in time, when the site was under construction and the meanings had not yet been rendered inaccessible. I made that film with urgency, in addition to fear and trembling. The place was being converted into a museum, and I wanted to capture it before it was completely transformed. Almost nothing that this film documented currently exists in the ESMA, which is now the ex-ESMA. A place, an estate, which we still do not know how to name, perhaps for fear of leaving its real name: ESMA, what was and will always remain.

The intimacy and solitude with which I film somehow translates to the screen.

Then I continued making films in different sites of memory, especially in places that functioned as clandestine detention centres. I filmed the murals at El Olimpo and at Orletti Automotores. With 17 MONUMENTOS I traveled around the country shooting memorial sites and military bases in Posadas, Trelew, Calama, Famaillá, San Miguel de Tucumán, Santiago del Estero, La Rioja, Córdoba, Paraná, Mar del Plata, La Plata, and Olavarría. I returned to the ESMA and filmed TABULA RASA a few years later, before I shot TOPONYMY in the Tucumán jungle, and submerged the camera in the depths of the Río de la Plata for LAS AGUAS DEL OLVIDO. In order to get permission to film the Electra planes that were used in the death flight I had to lie to the military at the Espora Base of Bahia Blanca.

Places difficult to shoot, either because of questions of access, or simply difficult to transit because they are inhabited by ghosts; those are the spaces par excellence that attract me and in which I want to continue filming. The intimacy and solitude with which I do it somehow translates to the screen.

CAMOUFLAJE represents a great new challenge. I had never before faced a space of such a dimension, or such diversity of characters that surround it. But Hamlet does not go alone to meet the ghost in the esplanade of the castle, he is accompanied by Horatio. The main motivation of this film is to share with Félix Bruzzone my own encounter with the ghosts. Inhabiting together not only the space behind the camera but of the whole creative process, in a form of co-authorship that we were forced to invent; we also found ourselves halfway in front of the camera, occupying a place within the picture, acting in this film.

Jonathan Perel

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