Saturday, August 15, 2015

#Venezia72 Check No. 3 - Latin American Directors

Latin American cinema will be represented in this year's Venezia72 competition with two directors, well-known Pablo Trapero and Lorenzo Vigas with his debut feature film.

Pablo Trapero

Born on October 4, 1971 in San Justo, La Matanza, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Studied filmmaking at Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires. He wrote, directed and edited short films and documentaries before directing his first feature film, award-winning Mundo Grúa (Crane World) that opened in 1999 Venice. A film that many claim was the breaking-point in Argentinean cinema as stimulated the creation of what now is known as New Argentinean Cinema.

In 2002, he opened his production company, Matanza Cine, that produces films for fellow filmmakers, as well as his own; his business partner is well-known actress Martina Gusman, who happens to also be his wife and muse. His second feature film El Bonaerense premiered in 2002 Cannes Un Certain Regard to critical and audience acclaim. After two locally acclaimed feature films, 2004 Familia Rodante that opens at Venice and 2006 Nacido y Criado that opens at Toronto, in 2008 he does the film that propels him to international recognition: Leonera (Lion's Den) starring none other than Martina Gusman.

I met Trapero with outstanding Leonera a film that completely captivated and mesmerized me, so much that he became -along with Lisandro Alonso-, one of the two Argentinean directors to closely follow their careers. That's how I got to know the New Argentinean Cinema that now has more directors with amazing films, but for me, the beginning was with Trapero and Alonso.

Leonera opens in competition for a Palme d'Or in 2008 Cannes and went to collect multiple honors in the festival and awards world circuits, including the most notorious Argentinean Academy Premio Sur Best New Actress for Martina Gusman.

His sixth feature film is Carancho that opens in 2010 Cannes Un Certain Regard and was Argentina's official submission to the Foreign-Language category of the 2011 Academy Awards. Not as engaging as Leonera but still full of the rawness in a very particular style he is developing, Carancho -starring none other than Ricardo Darin- collects many local honors and critical acclaims. Next film is Elefante Blanco (White Elephant) opened in 2012 Cannes Un Certain Regard; not particularly liked the film. You can find reviews of Trapero's three films in the blog if you wish to go deeper into each film.

It is hard to believe that The Clan is only the eight feature film Trapero has done; but it's a fact even when in between he has done short films, including the segment Jam Session in 7 Days in Havana, and documentary-short in 2013 Venice 70: Future Reloaded. The Clan is the first collaboration with another well-known Argentinean actor, Guillermo Francella and tells an unbelievable story that happens to be true. As a matter of fact Trapero commented that his biggest challenge was to make a story that seemed fiction into a credible cinematic experience; and so he continues to play with his particular storytelling style that can be described as fiction that could be reality and reality that could be fiction.

I have no doubt that film has impeccable credentials and obviously is must be seen for me as are all films by Trapero. Have high expectations because Trapero, the story and yes, also because the cast. If I felt Elefante Blanco was weak, I'm sure that this film will not be at all -well, I hope.

Last I'm sharing an interesting description of what Trapero's filmmaking style could be, as seen by himself. Remark comes from Trapero's bio at Cannes official site.

“It will never be clear where fiction begins and reality ends. Daily life is full of absurd and inconceivable moments that we can't even comprehend. Sometimes, we face things in real life that exceed any notion of fiction. That's why I believe in fiction, because it is reality.” Pablo Trapero.

Basic info about El Clan (The Clan)
Director: Pablo Trapero
Scriptwriters: Pablo Trapero, Julian Loyola, Esteban Student
Language: Spanish
Runtime: 108 mins
Production Countries: Argentina and Spain
Production Companies: El Deseo (Agustín Almodóvar and Pedro Almodóvar), Kramer & Sigman Films, Matanza Cine, Telefonica Studios, Telefe
Distribution: 20th Century Fox (World-wide), 20th Century Fox de Argentina (Argentina)

Cast: Guillermo Francella, Peter Lanzani, Lili Popovich, Gastón Cocchiarale, Giselle Motta, Franco Masini, Anotionia Bengoechea

Plot Summary
The true story of the Puccio Clan. A family who kidnapped and killed people in the 80s.

Spanish: Argentina, comienzos de los años 80.  Detrás de la fachada de una típica familia del tradicional barrio de San Isidro, se oculta un siniestro clan dedicado al secuestro y asesinato. Arquímedes, el patriarca, lidera y planifica los operativos. Alejandro, el hijo mayor, estrella del club de rugby CASI y jugador del mítico seleccionado Los Pumas, se somete a la voluntad de su padre para identificar posibles candidatos y se sirve de su popularidad para no levantar sospechas. Los integrantes de la familia son cómplices en mayor o menor medida de este accionar macabro, viviendo de los beneficios que obtienen de los suculentos rescates pagados por los familiares de los secuestrados.  Con los últimos años de la Dictadura militar y los primeros pasos de la Democracia como telón de fondo, sucede esta historia de intriga y suspenso basada en la historia real de la familia Puccio.


Lorenzo Vigas

He is my second big surprise in Venezia 72; first, for not cinema-related reasons as while researching his bio discovered that he's the only child of well-known Venezuelan painter, muralist and sculptor, Oswaldo Vigas. Second, more related to cinema, discovered that he has work with a group of prominent young Mexican directors and third, discovered that he was in Cannes, so had to fix data in the Series first post.

Lorenzo Vigas was born in Mérida, Venezuela in 1967. Graduated in Molecular Biology from Tampa, Florida; in 1995 moved to New York City to study film at NYU. In 1998 returns to Venezuela to direct the documentary series Expedition. From 1999 to 2001 works with Bolivar Films and Cinesa directing ads and documentaries.

We arrive to 2004 when while living in Mexico he directs, Los Elefantes Nunca Olvidan (Elephants Never Forget), the multiple award-winner short film that premiered in 2004 Cannes in the Critics' Week section. Then, for more than five years he has been filming the documentary El Vendedor de Orquídeas about his father and the search of a paint that has been lost since the painter was very young; doc will be released in 2016. With Desde Allá (literal translation: From Afar) Vigas becomes the first Venezuelan to have a film in competition for Venice's Golden Lion.

Desde Allá (aka El Ultimo Regalo) competed for post-production services in 2015 Toulouse fest at the 27th Films in Progress section where collected two awards: Prix Exceptionel (post-production) and European Distributors & Exhibitors prize (distribution in European theaters) that includes the CICAE Art Cinema Award. Film is the second of a trilogy about paternity that started with his short film Elephants Never Forget and will end with his next film, known today as La Caja (The Box).

Before doing this exercise had no expectations about this film; but now things have changed because the director background and who the lead actor is. Alfredo Castro is one of my favorite actors with many outstanding performances in the films by Pablo Larraín like Tony Manero, Post Mortem and even the smaller role in NO. His deadpan performances are truly glorious and now just imagine what he can do as Armando in Desde Allá. Know that Vigas is no Larraín; but still hope that under Vigas direction, Castro will shine as he always does.

Also relevant is to discover that Vigas has worked with Michel Franco and Gabriel Ripstein films; and now they are "helping" him with his debut feature film. But most interesting is the role Guillermo Arriaga played in this film, as he helped Vigas with the screenplay. If you work in Latin America these credentials suggest film could be as great as any film in the new wave of Mexican cinema -yes, great, even when I like more the other school of new Mexican cinema, the one by Carlos Reygadas group. Sigh.

Nevertheless, now I have expectations and hope film will surprise me and perhaps even surpass my expectations.  Assume that Alfredo Castro will be competing for the Coppa Volpi Best Actor and if he is as good as in any of his previous films, he has good chances of winning.  Imagine that film will be competing for the Queer Lion as even when producers say "is not a gay movie" they also say "get nears to that world [sic]".

Basic info about Desde Allá
Director: Lorenzo Vigas
Scriptwriter: Lorenzo Vigas, based on a story by Guillermo Arriaga and Lorenzo Vigas
Language: Spanish
Runtime: 93 mins
Production Countries: Venezuela and Mexico
Production Companies: Factor RH Producciones (Rodolfo Cova), Lucía Films (Michel Franco and Gabriel Ripstein), Malandro Films (Lorenzo Vigas and Edgar Ramirez).

Cast: Alfredo Castro, Luis Silva

Plot Summary
In the chaotic Caracas, Armando (50), owner of a lab dentures, is looking for young men at bus stops and offers them money to accompany him home. At the same time, Armando has the habit of spying on an old man: he knows where he lives, what places he visits; something in the past of both tie them together. One day Armando takes home Elder (18), leader of a small band of thugs. From this meeting will born a relationship that will change their lives forever.

Film Stills

Check his award winning short

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