Cineastas At The Under The Radar Festival
By Marcina Zaccaria
The lives of four filmmakers intersect in Cineastas, an intricate play presented at Under The Radar Festival at The Public Theater.
Mariano Pensotti (text and direction) creates a touching drama about filmmakers who discuss work, art, and money as they bridge the gap between their real lives and the lives created for the screen. It is a graceful return to The Public Theater stage for Pensotti who directed El Pasado Es Un Animal Grotesco at the UTR Festival in 2012. Pensotti, an Argentine author and theater director, keeps the play in Spanish, but skillfully utilizes supertitles in English. Cineastas, already performed in Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, and Paris, seems fresh in this NYC production and never loses its sense of humor.
Moviemaking seems to be an athletic feat in this 100 minute drama. It’s heartening to see the two men and two women destined for cinematic greatness throw themselves into the process of filmmaking. While their stories never collide, they intersect. As they leverage their shortcomings against their connection to the material, the filmmakers articulate the crisis deep within themselves. It is great material for The Under the Radar Festival, dedicated to presenting cutting edge theater from all over the world.
The company, originally from Buenos Aires, consists of Horacio Acosta, Javier Lorenzo, Vanesa Maja, Juliana Muras, and Marcelo Subiotto. As they go through the emotional journey of making a film, their human drive seems to be assessed by an actor with a microphone looking at another actor. They have trained and they are prepared. The filmmakers remain human and capable, stepping up to the challenge of conceiving and completing a movie. It is never a ritual experiment. Each failure and mis-step is taken to heart. The filmmakers fall in love, throw wild parties, and spend time at the table empathizing before catapulting themselves into the next moment. The play is quick, but never too fast to lose the audience. Their triumphs and follies are observed and noted.
The set by Mariana Tirantte is both innovative and functional. The white, two-level set creates a movie world and an everyday world for the actors to inhabit. The actors run and seem to slide across the white stage, particularly in the upper part of the split level staging, where moviemaking comes alive. They have moments of exasperation as their human drama makes its way into the film. Two ideas create a path for a new idea, generating an exuberant offering for the stage.
As the performers reflect about the past, they keep the drama alarmingly present both for the screen and for the stage. Tony, Gabriel, Mariela, and Nadia take on McDonalds, dance to Red Music, and consider the memories of their past over the course of a year. They experience many emotions as they contend for the prize of making the movie and getting the funding. Quirky and earnest, it’s a delightful revelation.
Cineastas is running until Jan. 11th at The Public Theater www.publictheater.org