If you´ve seen “Adaptation” or attempted to write a screenplay, you know who Robert McKee is–a charismatic teacher of the principles of what makes a script work. His lectures are 4 day marathons of movie structure, peppered with antidotes and pearls of wisdom. Not that I know personally–I can´t cough up the 2100 pesos (about $600 dollars, or roughly a month´s wage for most) to go. But Robert McKee did hold a free talk with local filmmaker Eliseo Subiela in a crammed auditorium in the Universidad de Buenos Aires.
McKee praised Argentine films for showing a dark side of life that Hollywood doesn´t like to show, and mentioned that politics and coming of age stories are two themes that are prominent. When Subiela asked McKee if a commercial film could be considered art (one of the raging debates in Argentine films–should movies be artistic visions of the director or commodities), McKee responded that a director or scriptwriter has the obligation to get the investors´money back, so that he or she can keep on making movies. What is “art” is decided 50 years later–Hitchcock is considered to be an artist today, but his movies at the time were considered to be commercial products.
I hope that McKee´s visit to Argentina will be a small step in creating acceptance among local filmmakers that commercial films can be artistic, and vice versa.