Pablo Trapero was born in San Justo, Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1971. He wrote, directed and edited the short films Mocoso Malcriado (1993) and Negocios (1995) before directing his feature debut, the award-winning Crane World (1999), a black and white 16mm film that proved to be a breaking point in Argentine cinema and that encouraged dozens of young directors into their first features. Crane World was released internationally at Venice, harvesting awards and critical acclaim at film festivals around the world.
In 2002, his second feature El Bonaerense premiered at Un Certain Regard in the Cannes Film Festival, again to critical and audience acclaim. That same year he opened his own production company Matanza Cine in Buenos Aires, from which he has produced ever since not only his own features but also those of other Argentine and Latin American filmmakers, including Lisandro Alonso, Enrique Bellande and Raúl Perrone. "Matanza", Trapero informed me, is the name of the neighborhood where he was born and raised and literally means "the killing." El Bonoaerense was filmed there, as were several sequences for Carancho (2010), Trapero's sixth feature and Argentina's official submission to the Foreign Language category of the 2011 Academy Awards®. It's been picked up for North American distribution by Strand Releasing.
As a director, between shorts and TV films, his credits include Rolling Family (2004), Born and Bred (2006), and Lion's Den (2008). Carancho explores the notion that "behind every tragedy, there is an industry." As Diana Sanchez detailed in her program notes for Carancho's North American premiere at TIFF 2010, Trapero's film is "a story drawn from the alarming violence on his country's streets" and "an engrossing love story set among people who trade in sudden tragedy and death." Tracking the film's press notes, Sanchez writes: "Each year, more than eight thousand people are killed on the road and over a hundred thousand are injured. As a result, a disturbingly large part of the Argentine economy revolves around traffic accidents, and a profit stands to be made from the ongoing flow of medical expenses and insurance claims. Trapero's sixth feature plunges into this murky world of opportunism, spotlighting the crooks that swoop in on emergency rooms and accident scenes."
At Twitch, Todd Brown reported from the film's Cannes premiere: "A film that fuses stellar character work and intimate drama with larger thriller and heist moments with a few elements of shocking violence thrown in for good measure, Carancho is a masterful piece of work from writer / director / producer / editor Pablo Trapero. Trapero serves notice here that he is one of the very best film makers in the world today. Period. The complexity of his characters, the technical quality of the film work, his ability to balance intimate emotion with realistic and brutal action sequences, his obvious skill in working with actors—though that is made easier when you have actors the caliber of [Ricardo] Darín to work with—Trapero is at the highest level in all of these. Flawless? Carancho comes pretty damn close."
At MUBI, Daniel Kasman praises Trapero as a steady, sure-handed genre craftsman. Kasman reports from the film's North American premiere at Toronto: "Carancho has the solidity of construction and reliance on conventional character types and story arcs to effectively normalize a highly specific and localized setting. The result, like an early 30s Hollywood entry, is a workman film, one made by a director prodigious enough to pick such a unglamorous setting and proceed to cast it in a reliably realistic and unappealing light—'cause that's the way it really is. ...The film is so solid that any room for ambiguity is left out of the digital masonry of the mise-en-scène, which builds a clear schema where, simply, anyone involved in the nocturnal world of deaths and near-deaths, accidents and 'incidents' is implicated in the gloom, no questions asked. Thus the modest ambitions of a genre film stay within its modest limits, rather than escaping into the unease of the shadows, blossoming within gray shades of morality, or aesthetically expanded in risky angles, lighting, and other stylistics."
My thanks to Marcus Hu of Strand Releasing for setting me up to interview Pablo Trapero at the Toronto International and to Doug Cummings for publishing the transcript of our conversation on his AFI Fest website [here] in conjunction with the film's screening this evening at the Mann Chinese 6 Theatre in Hollywood.
Cross-published on Twitch.