As an independent film producer of Argentinian cinema for almost ten years, Martina Gusman attended Cannes as an actress in 2008 in Leonera, a film by Pablo Trapero which was presented In Competition. She returned as a director in 2010 with Carancho, selected for Un Certain Regard. Now, one year later, she is back as a member of the Feature Film Jury.
You are joining Robert De Niro in the Feature Film Jury. Does being a member of this particular jury have any special meaning for you ?
Absolutely. Robert De Niro is an actor that we admire enormously. I grew up with his films. The opportunity of being a member of the Jury alongside him, to be able to talk about films with him, is a dream come true! I also admire the work of all the other Jury members too.
Tell me about your first time at Cannes. What place does the Festival have in your career ?
It was in 2001 and I came with Pablo Trapero, my husband, who is a film director in Argentina. He was presenting his film Libertad. We came back in 2002 with El Bonaerense, a film he produced. That time there were three of us, as our child came too. He was just 45 days old. And now, I am here at Cannes, in the Jury!
Indeed, as a Jury member, you are now on the "other side". How do you feel about this new position?
I believe that every person has their own sensibility, ideas and emotions. I am going to be a spectator and allow myself to be immersed in a film, whilst trying to find what the director is saying: really get lost in the story. I don't like the word "judge": the idea of saying whether something is good or bad. What I want to do, is to say which films I like in the selection.
Having been producing films for more than ten years, your work is well known in Argentina. What are the indispensable criteria for creating a good film?
I think you need to be clear with yourself. But you also need a clear idea of what you want to say. The key is to be loyal and consistent with your ideas, feelings and desires. After all, what is a film? It is the telling of a story and the transmission of a message.
What do you think of Argentinian Cinema? What do you think its future holds?
Argentinian Cinema has changed a lot in 15 years. Pablo belongs to the new generation of Argentinian Cinema that has started to attend film festivals. The styles have changed, the formats too. Everything was very different before. We feel a deep need to tell stories, to report on the world. I am glad to be a part of Argentinian Cinema, and truly proud to be here and representing it.
You shot in the first instance with Nacido y Criado (Born and Bred), then with Leonera (In Competition at Cannes in 2008) and Carancho (Un Certain Regard in 2010). These three films were directed by your husband, Pablo Trapero. Did he encourage you to act?
I am a trained actress – I attended classes from a very young age – but I have been producing films for more than ten years. When I met Pablo, I was doing theatre. Since then, he has not stopped telling me that I should act. He encouraged me a lot. For me, we are a great union; I really like what he does, I love how he selects his actors. Working with him has been amazing.
What do you like about being an actress?
I love being able to lead several lives in one, to act out real-life stories and to transmit them to an audience who does not necessarily know them. I also love learning.
You are a defender of films which seek to change things. Leonera sparked debate over prisons in Argentina. In your opinion, is it the role of cinema to denounce or to express a point of view?
I don't think it is a role of cinema to denounce an opinion. Cinema, itself, does not denounce. Cinema provokes thoughts, sensations, it awakens feelings. Cinema allows you to say "Wake up, this is real". It is this impact that I like. For me, Leonera and the law that was then passed, is incredible! Yet the most extraordinary part is the reaction that the film provoked among the people behind the creation of this law.
Which film has had the biggest effect on you?
There are many… Modern Times by Charlie Chaplin is a film that left a lasting impression on me. It was like a link between this incredible cinematic side and me with the magic of cinema.
Anything you'd like to add?
I am so happy! To be here for two weeks watching amazing films in magnificent and magical theatres like the Grand Théâtre Lumière… To have the opportunity to share all this with the other Jury members is a unique experience.
Interview by T.K.