Matías Piñeiro Director of The Princess of France at the New York Film Festival

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Matías Piñeiro is an Argentinian director with a penchant for reinterpreting Shakespeare for the modern age. While he’s far from the only filmmaker with that predilection, Piñeiro differs in that he twists those tried and true storylines into surrealist conversational films as though someone has taken the Bard’s characters and let them loose on their own adventures, plot be damned. Onstage performances often mimic the offstage lives of the characters. 

 

Piñeiro’s newest film to follow that formula, the Princess of France, recently enjoyed a screening at the 52nd New York Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival. Loosely based on Love’s Labour’s Lost, the plot follows a young director named Victor as he attempts to put on a radio play in the midst of his personal love life failings. As Max Nelson of Film Comment explains, “the film becomes an environment fitted out for envisioning alternate possibilities, a space in which alternate routes can be tested out, then followed back to their source for other routes to be tried in turn,” a description that can be applied to all of Piñeiro’s films.

 

A secondary, but perhaps more illuminating, aspect of Piñeiro’s work is his preference for spotlighting females as the primary characters onscreen. Although Victor is the central role in this film, it’s still the women who orbit around him that are given the most autonomy. Again, Nelson elucidates the difference: “Much of the movie’s pleasure is in watching the way the women dance carefully into and away from his [Victor’s] advances, protecting themselves, pursuing their projects, watching their steps.” 

 

Piñeiro has an innate ability to recognize quality, both in acting and in forming his friendships. He has cast the same actresses in most of his features, and that select group of mesmerizing performers also makes up some of his closest friends. Piñeiro lights up when talking about them, as you can witness in our interview with the filmmaker on the red carpet before the Princess of France’s NYFF premiere. In fact, Piñeiro admits to being more inspired by how he imagines his friends portraying Shakespearean roles than by the plays themselves.

 

 

Piñeiro describes in the preceding clip how working with friends is a blessing and a curse—who wants to lose a friendship when tensions run high? But their bond forms the heart of his films. As Piñeiro relates, his inspiration for his short Rosalinda (2011) came from imagining Maria Villar as Rosaline from As You Like It, which Piñeiro admits is also his favorite Shakespearean play. 

 

Villar was also present on the red carpet and spoke just as warmly of Piñeiro’s skills, especially his openness to letting actors makes mistakes. 

 

 

Villar gives us an intriguing description of her character, Ana, in the film, but in choosing Natalia as the other role she might like to have played, her admiration for her friend and fellow actress, Romina Paula, comes through clearly. The frequent mentions of the Princess of France’s director of photography, Fernando Lockett, in Piñeiro’s and Villar’s interviews also indicates what a special place he holds in this close circle of creatives. We look forward to their next Shakespearean adaptation and hope “like as the waves make towards the pebbl'd shore, so do our minutes, hasten to their end” of the wait to see it. As shooting is slated to begin this month, we may need to pray for more patience.
 
The Princess of France opens June 26th at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.  Click here for ticketing information.
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