×

‘My Masterpiece’ Director Gastón Duprat On Comedy, Fine Art and Balancing Tone

The Argentinian director explains why he didn't sweat his solo-directorial debut, why he rehearsed his actors for three months and why Venice is his ideal festival.

While “My Masterpiece” zigzags from buddy comedy to biting satire to sober reflection on age and illness – and does so in an order one wouldn’t quite expect – the film always remains buoyed by director Gastón Duprat’s appealingly light approach.

That same light touch enlivened the Argentinian filmmaker’s previous effort, 2016’s “The Distinguished Citizen”, which took home the Volpi Cup at Venice that year and would become Argentina’s foreign language Oscar submission and a modest box office hit.

Premiering Aug. 30 out of competition, this art-world satire hopes to launch with similar aplomb. Produced by Televisión Abierta, Aleph Media, and Mediapro, and sold by Latido Films, “My Masterpiece” focuses on the relationship between jaded Buenos Aires gallerist Arturo (Guillermo Francella) and irascible painter Renzo (Luis Brandoni), a nightmare of a client and Arturo’s oldest, dearest friend.

Whereas up to this point you’ve worked closely with collaborator Mariano Cohn, “My Masterpiece” marks your solo-directorial debut. Did that change much about your process? How was this shoot different from previous efforts?

The shoot wasn’t that different. Though this time round I directed and Mariano [Cohn] produced, it was a real group effort, which also took in our screenwriter Andrés Duplat. On our next film, “4×4” now in post-production, we’ve flipped: Mariano directs, I produce. It’s one way of covering more roles and making a project more solid. But I’m sure Mariano and I will co-direct a film again in the future.

The film navigates several thematic shifts and narrative sleights of hand, all while maintaining a light and breezy air. Was it difficult it to maintain a steady tone throughout?

The tone was certainly a premise, something we sought to capture in three months of extensive rehearsals with Guillermo Francella and Luis Brandoni, where we worked on the actors’ correct tone for a comedic drama which can go from humor to emotion in an instant, without, we hope, any slackening nor loss of plausibility.

CREDIT: MARIO CHIERICO

While the film is unafraid to paint its two leads in broad, buffoonish strokes, it never calls into question Renzo’s talent as an artist. Was that an important creative mandate? Who did you get to create his art?

It’s the work of a distinguished Argentine expressionist painter, Carlos Gorriarena, who died in 2007. We chose it because of its power of expression, color, and mordant social criticism – perfectly in line with our fictional painter, Renzo Nervi.

Among its many targets, the film plays up a kind of Old World vs. New World dynamic, gently poking fun at the various Europeans who look to Argentina for a new lease on life. Why did you want to play with those themes?

Raúl Arévalo plays Alex, a typical bien-pensant European tourist who feels a sense of solidarity, and is dedicated to noble causes. In reality, he’s pretty much an ingénue. That stands, of course, in large contrast to the gallery owner and the painter, who are far more ambivalent and complex characters — pretty cynical, though their friendship is an ennobling feature.

Both your previous film, “The Distinguished Citizen,” and now “My Masterpiece” have played in Venice as unashamed crowd-pleasers. How important is it to find these kinds of warm-hearted counter-programming in the usually more austere confines of European festival fare? 

I’m no film festival analyst. I can only say that both films, “The Distinguished Citizen” and “My Masterpiece,” have been invited to many topnotch festivals. However, Venice is ideal for our films: Many people say they have quite a large Italian influence, which for me is high praise indeed.

CREDIT: ALEJANDRA LOPEZ

More Film

  • In Search

    Rushlake Takes World Rights for Two Acclaimed African Docs (EXCLUSIVE)

    DURBAN–Cologne-based Rushlake Media has acquired world sales rights for “The Sound of Masks,” by Portuguese filmmaker Sara Gouveia, and “In Search,” by Kenyan director Beryl Magoko. The announcement was made Thursday at the Durban Intl. Film Festival, where both documentaries are screening. Rushlake’s Philipp Hoffmann says the two films will bolster the company’s growing slate [...]

  • The Lion King

    Box Office: 'The Lion King' Crossing $100 Million Milestone

    Ahead of its domestic debut, Disney’s “The Lion King” is already roaring past $100 million in ticket sales globally. The hyper-realistic remake of the animated classic has generated $94.5 million from a handful of markets at the international box office and is expected to hit triple digits on Thursday. “The Lion King” opened Wednesday in [...]

  • 'It: Chapter Two' Trailer Released: Losers

    'It: Chapter Two' Trailer: Adult Losers Club Faces Off With Pennywise

    In the second trailer for “It: Chapter Two,” the Losers Club, now adults, return to face the evil force that is Pennywise. “Something happens to you when you leave this town, the farther away, the hazier it all gets,” says adult Mike in a voiceover. “But me, I never left. I remember all of it.” [...]

  • Richard Jenkins, Shane Paul McGhie Starring

    Richard Jenkins, Shane Paul McGhie to Star in Indie Comedy 'The Last Shift'

    “The Shape of Water” star Richard Jenkins and “What Men Want” actor Shane Paul McGhie have been cast in the independent comedy “The Last Shift.” The two will appear alongside Ed O’Neill, Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“High Fidelity”), Birgundi Baker (“The Chi”) and Allison Tolman (“Fargo”). Andrew Cohn is directing from his own script. “The Last [...]

  • The Band Doc 'Once Were Brothers'

    Robbie Robertson Documentary 'Once Were Brothers' to Open Toronto Film Festival

    “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band” will rock the opening night of the Toronto International Film Festival. The documentary recounts the story of one of Canada’s musical legends — a man who served as both lead guitarist and primary songwriter on a group that introduced the likes of “The Weight” and “The Night [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content