Argentine filmmaking dates approximately from the same period as the emergence of the industry in Western Europe and the United States, as well as in Mexico and Brazil, and Argentina continues be a major film producer. Luis Puenzo's La historia oficial ( The Official Story , 1985) is the only Latin American film to have received the Oscar ® for the best foreign film, although during the past few decades a healthy number of Latin American films have been contenders. While political considerations have often determined the growth and health of the industry, there has been a sustained presence of Argentine filmmaking since the early twentieth century, with an excellent reception not only on the part of Argentine audiences, but also from audiences throughout Latin America and Spain as a consequence of the international projection of Argentine culture in general.
Early Argentine filmmaking parallels in many ways American and other Western European models, and some of the most important early films attempt to portray national characteristics, folk heroes, and the tensions of modernity, which in Argentina developed with exceptional vigor. As modernity became firmly established and urban life grows ever more sophisticated and, therefore, conflict ridden, sophisticated drawing-room comedies, so-called white telephone melodramas, and political and detective thrillers were produced in abundance. It is during this period that the Argentine equivalent of the star system, as regards both actors/actresses and directors, is firmly established and movie houses become one of the most profitable establishments of the much vaunted nightlife of the Argentine republic along the Broadway-like Avenida Corrinetes and the adjoining street of Calle Lavalle.