All his life he campaigned relentlessly for freedom. The great Argentine director Fernando Solanas died in Paris on November 6, at the age of 84, from the coronavirus. Hospitalized on October 16, he himself announced on his Twitter account that he had to receive intensive care from October 21.
Creator of Cine Liberacion in the early 1960s, a movement that wanted to open a third way to Latin American cinema off the beaten track by Hollywood and European productions, this committed filmmaker became a center-left deputy in his country between 1993 and 1997 , then senator from 2013 until his death.
Documentary filmmaker committed against the military dictatorships which followed one another in Argentina until 1983, Fernando Solanas had been noticed in 1968 with The Hour of the Braziers (which ends with the celebration of Che Guevara, it was fashion, then), will be presented at the Venice Film Festival the year of its release. A visionary too, he produced remarkable works of fiction such as South, which received the prize for the direction at the Cannes festival in 1988. All his creations will have been vast journeys which scrutinize reality through the history and the peoples of Latin America.
Fernando Solanas was born on February 16, 1936 in Buenos Aires. First attracted by music, he worked on the piano and studied composition. Very quickly, however, he turned to realization. In 1968, he signed a committed four-hour documentary, The Hour of the Braziers. Its shooting is clandestine, and prohibited by the dictatorship then in power, it must broadcast it on circuits outside the control of the Argentine state.
In 2018, he will present a restoration of this first committed documentary. Moved, he will declare: “this film-act will have been a great adventure. 175 films were smuggled out of Argentina to be edited in Rome. The objective of the film was to provoke the development of a discussion on current events.”
In 1976, opposing the military dictatorship of General Videla, he decided to go into exile in Paris. In 1988, he produced perhaps what will remain as his greatest work of fiction, South. He tells here the nostalgic wanderings of a political prisoner lost in an Argentina under the yoke of the dictatorship.
Always a militant at heart, in the 2000s, becoming Argentina’s ambassador to Unesco, he signs new documentaries, this time committed to the defense of the climate and biodiversity, such as the excellent The Grain and the Tare, which he will dedicate to Pope Francis.
Cinema theorist, director, deputy, man of good will … Fernando Solanas was a bit of all of these at the same time. In 2018, he declared as a message to posterity: “There is not on the one hand a filmmaker and on the other a politician, I am a whole.“
South by Fernando Solanas in 1988, with Susu Pecoraro, Philippe Léotard ….