“We have a strong industry that is very complicated”

Since last Thursday, the comedy El metodo Tangalanga, about the birth of the very special humor of comedian Julio Victorio de Rissio (1916-2013), can be seen on the big screens of cinemas. In this film fiction is intertwined with reality, its real past and the genre, and the script is by Sergio Dubcovsky, Nicolás Schujman and Mateo Bendesky, who also took over the direction of the film (his third feature). In its cast are: Martín Piroyansky, Julieta Zylberberg, Alan Sabbagh, Rafael Ferro, Luis Machín, Luis Rubio, Lucía Maciel, Antonella Saldicco, and a very special participation by Silvio Soldán.

Mateo Bendesky’s previous films were In Here and Family Members. In both films present at festivals such as Berlin and Toronto, he was a scriptwriter and director. Today in front of the premiere he affirms: “For me there is something about appropriating the film. I like to play the text, even accompanied, as it was in this case by Nicolás Schujman”.

—How was it created?

—The project was started by the film’s producer, Diego Dubcovsky, in 2018. He had co-produced my previous film, Family Members. He invited me to do a reading, but then it was put on hiatus until 2021. There was a first version of the script and then we rewrote it together with Nicolás Schujman. Then a few months passed and we filmed it in April 2022 for five weeks.

—Did you feel the difference of having a production company like Star Distribution?

—Our production company was Warsaw, which has a distribution agreement with Disney. We go out in rooms. Diego (Dubcovsky) was a generous producer with the film and I always felt very accompanied with the ideas and proposals that I brought him. Sometimes they were not contemplated in the original project that they approached me.

—The true story of Tangalanga begins as shown in the film but there is only one real name: Sixto, the friend. Why?

—We work very closely with the family and they asked us to change the names of their parents and grandparents. Although El metodo Tangalanga is not a biopic, nor do I intend to be a faithful reproduction of his life, we did want to take his beginnings, which is a very nice story since he began with jokes to accompany his friend (Sixto) who was sick. We feel that we could maintain that data, like many others. He had used other pseudonyms, but we chose Tangalanga, because he is the best known. When a movie is made, sometimes it asks to be structured in a different way from real life. That’s why we take some licenses.

—Although the beginnings of Tangalanga were fines of fifty years, its boom was later. Why did you choose to place it in the 1960s with the difficulties that that entails?

—Sometimes one gets complicated hoping for better results. From the beginning we thought about its origins and we found it more interesting to show them, adding the romantic comedy. In addition, one does not see so many national films located in the sixties.

—Who came up with the idea of ​​incorporating Silvio Soldán?

—You will use almost the entire cast. One day meeting with Diego, the producer, he told me that for that role, the mentalist, I imagined someone like Soldán in Feliz Domingo. That’s when I felt it was him. We contacted him, we proposed to do it and we got everything, with a dedication and unique professionalism. I even complicated it when I asked him to do Spanish and it came out perfectly. I hope he continues with his 87 years making comedies.

—Now comedy appears very clearly in your cinema, although it always was: what is your link with this genre?

—I love cinema, exploring and deconstructing genres. It is very difficult to say that I am closed. So far I’ve played comedies, even a bit black, but I would never pigeonhole myself in doing just them. Even at the moment I am working on another genre.

—How do you see the current national cinema?

—I think that in Argentina we have many talents. Our cinema is wonderful, it has a huge spectrum of genres, tones and it is a very rich cinematography. Almost two hundred movies are made a year. We have a strong industry that is going through a very difficult time. It has lost a lot of funding in recent years and sometimes, outside of the commercial tanks, the public does not bet so much on Argentine cinema. This is a good time to reconsider the conditions in which we make films here. Historically, we have always had films at all the festivals in the world. It is a discipline that depends deeply on a state will, but also on private ones. Today the platforms have become big players. You must bet on new looks and diversity. If there is a desire to accompany more ambitious projects, both from the state and from the platforms, we will be able to resurface.

—Did the pandemic hit a lot?

—Yes, but our film law is from 1994 and everything changed a lot. At that time there were no platforms. When the pandemic arrived, the Film Institute began to have a lower budget because the same increase in the tax paid for the tickets. I hope that in this new scenario we must have to compensate how the cinema will be financed.

—Do you think the existing popular prejudice against national cinema has been lost?

“I think we still have a long way to go.” Cinema consumption in Argentina is very divided. You have the industrial tanks with very well-known interpreters, who always perform quite well, there will be five per year. And then there are the smaller films, which have a certain resistance. Many are made but few last in theaters. They say that national cinema is boring, but sometimes economic conditions limit and make it difficult to think bigger. Unlike other arts that need production, if you don’t have money you can’t do it. In these years, medium-sized films slowly disappeared, they were not tanks, nor girls, they led a normal life in theaters, but unfortunately they were lost and it is a shame. Hopefully they can come back.

—What do you feel was necessary to tell in El metodo…?

—I think I wanted to show David that he is facing Goliath. I identify a lot with that shy character who doesn’t feel so comfortable with the blacks and whites that he presents to the world. Those protagonists can shine. I think Tangalanga faces the world like Jorge and wins being who he is, valuing himself.

—Tangalanga’s humor, from the telephone and making fun of those who don’t know him: is it still current?

—I think there is a lot that doesn’t work today, because luckily the world is not the same. Humor is always safe and sound, but it is good to understand that humor is something with which we can all laugh. If I make you feel bad, it seems to me that it is not necessary. The core of Tangalanga’s humor is almost absurd and has something tango and very Argentine. But perhaps there is something more aggressive or homophobic that no longer works. It is not necessary to hurt anyone, you have to laugh with people and not at people.

quite a special movie

The Tangalanga method premiered at the last Film Festival in Mar del Plata. Its director, Mateo Bendesky affirms: “It went very well for us, but I don’t feel that it is a film for festivals, I think it has another path, perhaps more commercial.” He anticipates that on January 26 he will travel to Uruguay to accompany her.

When Bendesky is asked about his cast, he is enthusiastic about defining them. He says: “The first incorporation was Martín (Piroyansky) I imagined him as a young Tangalanga, although people knew him when he was older. He is a very funny actor with great versatility. He was excellent at composing two very different characters. From there we looked for who would play Clara and since I really like the actress Julieta (Zylberberg) I called her. Each one has its very particular contribution. From Alan Sabbagh with his tenderness, like Rafael Ferro as a leading man or Luis Machín as boss. For me the surprise was Luis Rubio. I did not know him, I did a test on him and he came out excellent ”.

When Bendesky is asked to analyze the type of humor with which he feels most represented, he will say: “I am a proud secular Jew and laughing at the absurdity of life is central. It is a very mental humor, although the physical was never ruled out, as Mel Brooks did. I think you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously.”

It is Martín Piroyansky who will underline: “The biggest challenge and the most complicated thing was to compose two characters. Also the responsibility that implied playing Tangalanga, who is a much-loved figure. I think that in Argentine cinematography it is difficult to find a comedy like this, especially because it is from the period and is based on a very particular protagonist, which makes it quite special. .”

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