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The Pineiro is Mightier than the Sword; TIFF Bell Lightbox Receives Argentinean Filmmaker

It has been said that very few (modern) filmmakers are able to succinctly capture the enigmatic nature of women on film. Matias Pineiro is most assuredly one such filmmaker. In his (thus far) brief filmography, complex, spirited females are always at the forefront of his films, both in the focused frame, and in the often elliptical narratives. Drawing on the works of deceased Argentinean writer/statesman Domingo Faustino Sarmiento in his earlier two films, and then Shakespeare in his later films, Pineiro permeates his canvas with characters taken from some of literature’s most memorable texts. What could have been a stale English lesson, however, has Piniero instead brilliantly transforming the material into something altogether compellingly fresh and intoxicating. This week, TIFF Bell Lightbox is proud to present a retrospective of the master auteur’s work, with the filmmaker in attendance for each of the special screenings.

It is only fitting that the retrospective begins with Pineiro’s Carte Blanche selection, Bertolucci’s Before the Revolution. Both prolific filmmakers have been heavily compared to Godard and his nouvelle vague contemporaries, and yet both aren’t given nearly enough credit for their compassionate and warm portrayals of troubled women. Both auteurs also loosely base their films on the works of oft adapted classic writers (in this case, Stendahl’s novel ‘The Charterhouse of Parma’), yet modernize and adapt their themes to the modern age.

Before the Revolution‘ is quite similar to The Stolen Man, Piniero’s first film, in that the universal themes of identity and the individual grasp for establishment are explored in the politically-charged text on which these films are based. The latter film, completed merely a year after Pineiro’s university graduation, was the first in his repeated collaborations with leading lady (and muse) Maria Villar and virtuoso cinematographer Fernando Lockett. Often using Godard’s favored long takes and challenging, theatrically staged frames that echo the various characters’ wavering focus, Lockett then perfectly captured the entrancing energy of Pineiro’s second feature, They All Lie.

Though his third film Viola (his short film ‘Rosalinda‘ precedes it) is often dismissed as his weakest effort (read DVD review), there is much to admire in it. Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth night, its playful and Kafkaesque visual style is wholly original, and its modern retelling of the Bard’s tale is subversively inventive. The Matias Pineiro retrospective is highly recommended for cineastes looking for a spellbinding and exciting (and relatively new) filmmaker by which to be dazzled. Divertimentos: The Films of Matias Pineiro runs from Thursday April 3rd until Sunday April 6th at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. For more information and tickets, please visit

Leora Heilbronn is a Toronto-based writer. Top Films From Contemporary Film Auteurs: Almodóvar (Volver), Coen Bros. (Burn After Reading), Dardennes (Lorna's Silence), Haneke (The Piano Teacher), Hsiao-Hsien (Three Times), Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love), Kiarostami (Certified Copy), Lynch (Mulholland Drive), Tarantino (Inglorious Basterds), Van Sant (Good Will Hunting), von Trier (Melancholia)

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