By Benjamín Harguindey, contributting blogger
In light of the 15th BAFICI, festival director Marcelo Panozzo hosted a roundtable (“without the table”, was the joke) on Thursday 11th with some of the country’s most successful filmmakers: directors Pablo Trapero, Juan Taratuto and Hernán Goldfrid, and producer Axel Kuschevatsky talked business and answered questions in an event called “My First Million” (as in viewers).
The roundtable covered subjects such as the (unfair) competition between indie and mainstream productions for the attention of exhibitors and the shame of discussing box office as if it were detrimental to art (“I never actually made it past one million viewers,” admitted Trapero sheepishly).
“In Argentina, most movies have some sort of [INCAA] subsidy,” said Kuschevatsky, “To talk about independent film is a bit of a contradiction. There’s the misconception Argentine films are dependent (…) but look here, Telefé holds a mere 10% of any movie it produces. They’re not gonna go ordering what will the movie be like and who you’ve gotta cast. The whole process is dialogued”
“I think all of us Argentine filmmakers make movies out of love,” agreed Goldfrid, “We want to express what’s going on with us and our worldview. That alone makes film independent”
The conversation carried on, with the general consensus being there’s no shame in catering to the widest audience possible; that Ricardo Darín is, by frequent collaborator Trapero’s words, “a fucking good actor”, though even he doesn’t constitute an airtight formula for success as much as a good script does.
“It’s important to specify the goal of cinema, perhaps not as art but as an industrial process,” said Taratuto. “Is it for people to watch it? I think so. So there’s a limit to encrypting your movie and making it subtle”
“People talk about “formula filmmaking”, yet none of us know what formula is that,” said Trapero.“I think it’s all in good health when a movie is watched a lot. It allows the director to meet eye-to-eye with a wide range of spectators… and in a way, this diversity is implied at the box office. This means the movie works on a number of levels, and it’s not necessarily some sort of devious ploy for getting as many people in the theater as possible”
During a brief Q&A epilogue, a film student complained – with all due respect – that they were too old and too passé to remain the faces of the soi-dissant New Argentine Cinema; the movement had failed by not paving the way for newer generations of filmmakers.
Traperowas quick to helm the retort. “I started filming at 25,” said Trapero, “and the future back then was ever so bleak, ever so much more difficult to make movies ten, fifteen years ago. There was no talking the way you and I are talking now. We talk about this New Argentine Cinema like it was a spontaneous thing, when it was in fact the product of interacting with history. If anything, you should be asking this question to, what’s the word? Your contemporaries”.