The International Sign for Choking

The International Sign for Choking

USA, 2012, 80 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: Argentina
Genre/Subjects: Art/Filmmaking, Drama
Programs: Focus on Nation Cinema: Argentina, New Directors Showcase
Language: English, Spanish English Sub-Titles

Josh (writer/director Zach Weintraub) is returning to Buenos Aires after a stint there as an exchange student, this time to work on a documentary about the lives of “real” Argentines. But his true reason for returning is to track down ex-girlfriend Martina, who has moved without a forwarding address.


Josh rents a room in his former apartment, as does fellow American Anna. The two discover an unexpected mutual attraction, even as Josh’s project grows ever more remote. They don’t fit in with the “ugly Americans” they encounter in the city, but neither are they Argentine. Josh struggles to make connections: it’s clear he can’t relate to young marrieds with children, but neither can he hang with guys at the skate park. A tour of a flour mill that never came to fruition mirrors his feelings of displacement and impotency; his project ideas are fruitless. While Josh’s detachment grows, Anna meets Roger, a hip Porteño musician. Josh includes Roger in his project, and creates a love triangle.


With his feet in two countries, Josh experiences the growing pains of a person finding his place in the world. But despite his feelings of alienation in an unfamiliar setting, he takes a subtle comfort with it—he’s choking, yet avoids connecting with anyone. The film is based on Weintraub’s own experiences as an exchange student in Argentina, and largely reflects his own feelings while living there: “It really has seemed next to impossible to feel a sense of belonging in Buenos Aires.”


- REBECCA CARO

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DIRECTOR: Zach Weintraub
Producer: Bradley Smith
Editor: Zach Weintraub
Screenwriter: Zach Weintraub
Cinematographer: Nandan Rao
Principal Cast: Zach Weintraub, Sophia Takal, Roger Delahaye

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