SAN SEBASTIÁN– He may not be a household name in the U.S., but in the Spanish-speaking world there are few more recognizable than Ricardo Darín. In town to accept his long-overdue Donostia Award, the San Sebastián Festival’s highest honor and first to go to a Latin American actor, Darín also fielded questions about his most recent film, Santiago Mitre’s “The Summit.”
For the first half our of his press conference Darín sat alone at a too long table, taking questions and reflecting on a career which started when the actor was only eight years old. Darín’s distaste for awards is well documented, but he clarified that stance in light of the honor he is set to receive Tuesday night. “I don’t consider this as an award. I don’t like competition. (With awards) we have to say who is best, or what film is better… it’s perverse.” It may seem like semantics, but it’s clear the distinction made by Darín.
In “The Summit,” Darín plays fictional Argentinian president Hernán Blanco. The actor made sure to clarify that Blanco is in fact fictional, and that they were very careful not to base him on any current or recent politicians in an effort to allow audiences to appreciate the film as a work of fiction, rather than a political commentary.
“The thing I had to keep in mind was to not seem like anyone easily recognizable in the last few decades. That would give a political color the story didn’t require.”
Despite his protestations, audiences may be reminded of Uruguay’s ultra-popular, every-man president Jose Mujica with a nicer car.
When a journalist started to ask about Spanish politics, Darín deftly interrupted with a joke, and thanked the journalist for not finishing the question she was about to ask.
After finishing his solo portion of the conference, there was a charming gap while the room waited for others involved with “The Summit,” to arrive, when Darín was asked about why his hair was so long.
“I’ve taken vitamins and I just lost control. It was supposed to be one a week and I was taking one every day!” After the laughter died down he explained that in fact, he was growing it out for his next role, and that they just hadn’t decided yet how long it should be.
Darín was then joined on-stage by director Santiago Mitre (“Paulina”, “The Student”), co-stars Dolores Fonzi and Elena Anaya, and producers Simón de Santiago and Fernando Bovaira at Spain’s Mod Producciones.
The question was again raised, this time to Mitre, about the real life political influences of the film, to which the director responded conclusively that “the film is completely fiction. It only represents problems of contemporary politics, the tension of unity and attempts to break that unity.”
When the same question was reversed, and it was asked whether films might have an impact on politics, Mitre was hopeful.
“Film helps. It’s a useful tool to demonstrate possibilities. Unions are fragile depending on how you take care of them. In South America we have been dreaming of a union which will turn us into a region stronger than what it is.”
Near the end, Darín was quizzed on whether he had ever given thought to using his influence to make a run at politics.
“I don’t think so, not at all. Arnold was here yesterday and he was the Governor of California right? For me, I have never thought of going down that path.”