Film Notes: The Distinguished Citizen (2016) [Original title: El ciudadano ilustre] directed by Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn

AR – ES / 118 min / Color / Arco Libre, Televisión Abierta, Magna Cine, A Contracorriente Films Dir: Gaston Duprat & Mariano Cohn Pro: Fernando Sokolowicz  Scr: Andres Duprat Cine: Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat Mus: Toni M. Miri Cast: Oscar Martínez, Dady Brieva, Andrea Frigerio, Nora Navas, Manuel Vicente, Belén Chavanne, Gustavo Garzón, Julián Larquier, Emma Rivera Synopsis: Daniel Mantovani is an Argentine writer who has lived in Europe for over three decades, internationally recognized for having won the Nobel Prize for literature. His novels are characterized by telling about life in Salas, a small town in Argentina where he was born and which he has not visited since he was a young man with aspirations to be a writer. In the numerous correspondence he receives daily he gets a letter from the City of Salas inviting him to receive the town’s most prestigious recognition: the Distinguished Citizen medal. Surprisingly, and despite his important obligations and compromises, Daniel decides to accept the proposal and returns to his town for a few days. The trip will have multiple aspects for Daniel: it will be the triumphant return to the town that saw him grow up, a trip to the past where he will reunite with old friends, lovers and nostalgic scenery, but above all else it will be a trip to the very heart of his literature, to the source of his creations and inspirations. Once there, the author will confirm both the affinities that still unite him with Salas and the differences that will quickly transform him into a strange and perturbing element to the town’s life. The small-town warmth disappears at the same time that the controversies multiply, arriving at a place with no return that reveals two irreconcilable ways to view the world. (Source: Pressbook)  Release Dates:  4 September 2016 (Venice International Film Festival); 8 September 2016 (Argentina); 11 November 2016 (Spain)  Original title: El ciudadano ilustre IMDb Rating: 7.6. El ciudadano ilustre was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. At Venice Oscar Martínez won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor. It was selected as the Argentine entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Award.

Begoña and I went yesterday to see El ciudadano ilustre. We had heard some positive reviews about this film. It’s quite funny and I had good time. However it has seemed to me a bit  pretentious and not very well shot.

poster1_es_bigProduction Notes

The Distinguished Citizen exposes various debates which are alive in Argentina and the world. One of them is the rejection of the external view and critique that the protagonist represents, an author exiled to Europe for decades, to the nationalist defense of his fellow countrymen. The peaceful life, the exaltation of one’s own and the small-town point of view are an acceptable way of life in a small town, but for this big city author they represent the denial from a society to any idea of progress. A sort of open wound in Argentina’s pride is added to this conflict for being a country filled with important authors, but lacking a Nobel for literature, a topic which the film retakes by recognizing the protagonist as the winner of the award that was denied to Jorge Luis Borges.

Daniel Mantovani will embody, at the same time, the great satisfaction and pride for his home town of having an internationally recognized figure, and the rising denial that will reveal itself in the citizens, who at first are fascinated by his visit, as they get to know him more and more. Like it has happened with so many artists related to their home towns, the fascination will mutate into contempt as they begin to learn his ideas and positions and, above all else, when the contents of his novels begin to spread, novels which critically portray the small-town life in Salas, making it a reality that “no man is a prophet in his own land”.

About the directors

Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn are television and film directors and producers.

Their first pieces of work were in video art and experimental cinema. Many of these pieces were rewarded internationally, some of them are El hombre que murió dos veces (1991), Un día más en la tierra (1993), Circuito (1996), Venimos llenos de tierra (1998), Soy Francisco López (2000), Veinte Doce (2001), Hágalo usted mismo (2002), and others.

In television they created various original formats. Some of them are: Televisión Abierta (1999), the first reality show in the world –Predecessor of YouTube- which has had various versions worldwide; Cupido (2001), the hilarious blind date that topped audiences; El Gordo Liberosky (2002), a fiction in the form of microprogramming; Cuentos de Terror (2003), a TV show with the author Alberto Laiseco, which had its Italian version starring Giancarlo Giannini.

They founded and directed two television channels: Ciudad Abierta (2003), the public channel for the City of Buenos Aires, and Digo (2012), the public channel of the Buenos Aires Province, innovative proposals which expanded the reaches of the genre based on new television concepts.

They directed and produced the feature films Enciclopedia (1998), an experimental documentary film; Yo Presidente (2003), with interviews to presidents Alfonsín, Menem, Duhalde and Kirchner; El Artista (2006), about the complex and contradictory world of contemporary art; El hombre de al lado (2008), successful and prized film filmed in a house designed by Le Corbusier; Querida voy a comprar cigarillos y vuelvo (2011), from the fantasy genre based on a story by Alberto Laiseca; Civilización (2013), a documentary about the artist León Ferrari –only as producers-; Living Stars (2014), a film that retakes from a cinematographic point the concept of the program Televisión Abierta; and El Ciudadano Ilustre (2016), their most daring project and one which they have been working on for several years.

Source: Pressbook

The Hollywood Reporter: Venice Review

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