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An Interview with Alison Murray, Director of Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2023

Films directed by Alison Murray on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires - in a few words, what is it about?


Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires is the story of a brother and sister who return to the country of their birth, Argentina, for the first time in their adult lives. Against the backdrop of glamorous tango clubs of Buenos Aires, they uncover dark family secrets and the reason for their parents' emigration to Canada.


With Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires having been mostly shot in Buenos Aires, Argentina, what can you tell us about your personal relationship with the town, and what inspired you to set a movie there?


I first travelled to Buenos Aires almost 20 years ago because I wanted to learn to dance tango. I fell in love with the city and the culture. I wanted to make a movie that would share my love of Buenos Aires and tango, sort of a love letter in the form of a movie.


Do talk about the political backstory of Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires for a bit, and what can you tell us about your research on the subject?


I want to inform people about the political history and the involvement of US corporations in the devastating military dictatorship that took power in Argentina from 1976 to 1983. My husband is Argentinean and his family, as well as the families of many people I am close to, were impacted by this dark chapter. I did significant research, sitting in on court cases where people who had appropriated babies born to opposers of the military regime were on trial. I also interviewed people who had recovered their true identities, which had been concealed from them since birth, often for 20 or 30 years.


There's also lots of music and dancing in Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires - so what does the tango mean to you personally, and what made you choose it as your movie's backbone?


Tango has been such a powerfully positive part of my life, and I am compelled to share its beauty with others. Social dancing, particularly tango with its close embrace, has the power to heal and to enrich us emotionally, spiritually, and on so many levels. I love the music of tango - it is so complex and multilayered. I wanted to show how dancing tango helps the characters navigate a complex emotional journey by giving them an outlet and an escape from their troubles.


(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires?


I was also inspired by some classic movies like Missing by Costa-Gavras and The Official Story by Luis Puenzo. Also Pedro Almodovar's work inspires me.


To what extent could you identify with the two protagonists of Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires?


I think there is a little bit of me in all the characters, certainly their journey of discovering tango and navigating concerns about whether or not tango is 'old fashioned sexist' is a reflection of my experiences.


What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?


I try and get into the subjectivity of the characters, so when they experience something as beautiful, I show it as beautiful, even if 'objectively' speaking it is not. Or, if something is stressful or oppressive to the characters, I try and reinforce that visually.


Do talk about Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires's cast, and why exactly these people?


I had the luxury of working with three of Argentina's most emblematic actors - Cristina Rosato, Eleonora Wexler and Gerardo Romano. I saw their previous work and loved them so much! Then for the two Canadian leads we have Raphael Grosz Harvey and Cristina Rosato - both amazing. This was Raphael's first lead role, and I hope it will lead to more opportunities for him. They are both nuanced, sensitive performers who weren't afraid of being vulnerable.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


We had a wonderful world class team in Argentina. There was a lot of emotion on set as the story unfolded. However, the shoot was halted after three weeks by the global pandemic. We finally resumed production a year and a half later, we were like a family being reunited, and it was very intense.


The $64-question of course, where can Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires be seen?


Streaming on Apple TV and Vudu in the US and Canada from Sept 12 2023.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires?


We have won several festival prizes - Best Foreign Feature @ Arizona International Film Festival, Audience Choice Award @ Woods Hole Film Festival, Jury Prize @ Mumbai International Film Festival, Best Canadian Filmmaker @ Toronto Women's Film Festival.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I am developing a female-centric thriller set on the Canadian prairies.


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


Originally I studied dance and theatre, but then moved into filmmaking because I felt the creative possibilities were more exciting. I received a Masters degree in Film Direction from the Royal College of Art in London, England.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires?


My first dramatic feature was Mouth to Mouth, starring Oscar nominee Elliot Page. I have also made several documentaries about carnies, trainhoppers and murga dancers. I started off directing music videos however.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


I like to plan and storyboard obsessively, and I like to rehearse as much as possible with the actors.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


Claire Denis, Julie Dash, Kelly Reichardt.


Your favourite movies?


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Alison Murray
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Alison Murray here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

Beau Travail by Claire Denis, In The Mood For Love by Wong Kar Wai, Visitors by Godrey Reggio.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


I tend to forget movies if I hated them.


Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

Facebook: Ariel Tango Movie

Instagram: arieltangomovie


Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


My husband and I won the Buenos Aires Tango Championship in 2014. I think I am the only Canadian who can claim that title!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD