Cannes Q&A: Pablo Trapero


Argentine director Pablo Trapero's films have received critical acclaim around the world, from 1999's "Mundo Grua" (Crane World) to 2002's "El Bonaerense" and 2004's "Familia Rodante" (Rolling Family). His latest feature, "Leonera," about a young mother imprisoned for murder, is one of two Argentine films In Competition at this year's Festival de Cannes. Trapero, known for portraying the lives of ordinary people with a critical eye toward modern society, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter's Brian Byrnes in Buenos Aires shortly after the Cannes announcement.

The Hollywood Reporter: Argentina made history this year with two films in the official competition at Cannes. How did you react when you heard the news?

Pablo Trapero: I was very happy. It was a really nice moment for me. We had just watched the first final copy of the film, which we sent to Cannes, and then a short while later we received word that we would be in the competition. Of course, we are thrilled.

THR: And you have some competition this year from a compatriot, fellow Argentine Lucrecia Martel's "La Mujer sin Cabeza." What does that say about the current state of Argentine cinema?

Trapero: It's a clear signal of what has been happening here for the past several years, with regards to the amount of and the quality of films being made in Argentina.
THR: Your name is often mentioned when talking about the wave of "New Argentine Cinema." What do you think of this term?

Trapero: They've been calling it "New Argentine Cinema" for the past 10 years now. It's an honor to be a part of this process, but it isn't something that started recently. It's been on the march for awhile now.

THR: How would you define the characteristics of this movement?

Trapero: It wasn't that a bunch of Argentine directors got together and decided on a style and then we went out and made movies that way. There is a lot of variety in what you see on screen. ... All of the Argentine directors are growing as artists, and as a result, our offerings are growing, too.

THR: What is the process like to get a movie made in Argentina?

Trapero: There are a million ways to make a movie in Argentina. Just like we have a lot of diversity in the kinds of films, there is also a lot of variety in how we make our films. You can have a very small budget with a limited production schedule, but with that you can easily tell a good story and make an intense film. And then there are medium- and high-budget features as well. I think these films have a different style than the low-budget ones because they are often done as co-productions. For example, "Leonera" was a co-production between Argentina, South Korea and Brazil, which was a unique experience for all of us. And then other films are made with only Argentine money and the funding that comes from the Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales. It's really varied.

THR: How did you get involved with producers from South Korea?

Trapero: We met with one of the producers, Young-joo Suh, who knew my films and liked them. She read the script and liked it a lot. Young-joo is a very well-known and prestigious producer and we thought it would be interesting and a great experience to work with her, not just because of the unusual cultural alliances, but also because of her talented team. We also collaborated on "Leonera" with (Brazilian director) Walter Salles, who we worked with on "Nacido y Criado." We've known him for awhile and we are great friends.

THR: Argentina produces some 80 films a year, yet only a small percentage of tickets sales here are attributed to Argentine movies. Why don't Argentines don't go to see their own movies?

Trapero: The INCAA is an organization that grew out of the industry itself. It is part of the government but it doesn't depend solely on government funding. The money comes from the revenue generated by movies themselves in different formats: movies, television, electronically. It generates an autonomous fund. I think that during many years, the focus of the INCAA was on activating the local production industry, and it was successful, as you see so many productions these days. But now ... we need to think of how to make these films more accessible, and how to maintain a space here for Argentine cinema. We are in a moment of transition. And this is not only in Argentina. This is an era of transition around the world because of the variety of formats that you can now use to sit down and view a movie.

Vital Stats
Pablo Trapero
Nationality: Argentina
Born: Oct. 4, 1971
Festival entry: "Leonera"
Selected filmography: "Moscoso Malcriado" (1993), "Mundo grua" (1999), "El Bonaerense" (2002), "Rolling Family" (2004), "Born and Bred" (2006)
Notable awards: Rotterdam International Film Festival's FIPRESCI prize and Tiger
Award for "Mundo grua" (1999); Venice Film Festival prizes for "Mundo grua" (1999); Chicago International Film Festival's FIPRESCI Prize for El Bonaerense (2002)
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