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Lifetime Achievement Award 2005
The only Argentine filmmaker who is part of film theory programs in hundreds of universities around the world, the name of Fernando (AKA "Pino") Solanas has become synonymous with the "political documentary", bringing many innovations to the genre with the seminal film Hora de los hornos (The Hour of the Furnaces), which is still being discussed today. More than that, his films are as provocative today as they were back then.
In the age of the DV revolution, when making "guerrilla" documentaries is part of everyday culture, the sixties ideal — expressed by Solanas and Getino in the classic text "Towards a Third Cinema" — of the democracy of the image, of "giving the cameras to the people", can even be considered prophetic, even when the use of those cameras is not always related to what Solanas intended. If giving the cameras to the people is not going to be much help in bringing back the ideas of a social revolution, at least it serves the purpose of expanding the possibilities of free and uncensored expression to more and more people around the world.
Solanas' name is related to the idea of the political, in-your-face documentary style, but he was never a lazy filmmaker and wasn't happy just using film as a medium solely for political expression. His films — and you can see that from his first shorts until the last documentary, La dignidad de los nadies (The Dignity of Nobodies), and especially in his fiction films, like Tangos, Sur and El viaje - have a very careful framing and his stylistic devices are always easy to recognize.
Films like Los hijos de Fierro (Children of Fierro), in the early seventies, explored the connection between Argentine tradition and the political changes of those times. In the eighties, when democracy returned to Argentina, he told stories of exiles and people who were lost and forgotten. In the last decade, when democracy in Argentina was transformed into a paradise for privatizations and rampant corruption, Solanas became a satirist, trying to put down the Menem government by way of parody and scorn.
But that didn't work, so "Pino" decided to attack the matter directly and was elected as a representative in the National Congress. All his predictions about an economic collapse were, sadly, confirmed in December 2001, when the country economy fell down to pieces. By that time, Solanas was back again behind the cameras, trying to capture the social unrest growing around the country.
With his last two films, a re-energized Solanas continues his audiovisual history of the last forty years of Argentina. Memoria del saqueo (A Social Genocide) was a recap of the last twenty years of "fear and loathing", and in La dignidad. he tries to put a hopeful spin on the difficult situation. In films like these, the word Action! takes a more complex meaning than the usual technical one.
With two more films to come to complete a tetralogy of chronicles (they are already announced and even partially shot), and when the director is approaching seventy, Solanas is living proof that not every young revolutionary becomes, with time, a complacent conservative. For him, there are still fights to be fought, films to be made, things to be said and done. So when the young generations of Argentine filmmakers call him maestro, the word rings completely true: Solanas is a filmmaker, a fighter and, especially, a teacher.