Popular and cult. A national icon and, at the same time, a shore artist. Strange, sensitive director who renewed Argentine cinematography. He saw every detail, he thought of everything and even planned how to compete with Hollywood. He even invented things that would be done much later, for example, by the dissimilar and distant Quentin Tarantino. But Leonardo Favio exceeds any comparison. He was unique and full of edges. His work —in addition to playing with genre, art, the way of filming, editing and directing actors and actresses— entertains, moves and stirs thought.
Favio made an intensely political film, but without talking about politics or going down the line or leaving a moral – the exception that confirms the rule is Perón, symphony of feeling–. As a writer and director, he chose to show the stories in a way where awareness—the need to act, the feeling that colors everyday life—wasn’t a direct call to action. What he did was provide the necessary elements so that whoever watches his films leaves the audiovisual experience with the need to connect the dots. Or with an intuition in that direction. But above all, that in the process, he is moved.
“My life doesn’t go through filming or singing, it goes through being happy,” he once said. And he also explained: “If there is something I ask God to do, it is to love people even more. To those who have no chance of being heard. Be with them. Walk with them. There is no mystery. It’s all about love.” It was consistent with his words.
Juan Jorge Jury Olivera was born on May 28, 1936 in Las Catitas, a small town 100 kilometers from Luján de Cuyo, in the province of Mendoza. The world knew and loved him as Leonardo Favio. First he was an actor and much later, a romantic singer. In the middle and until the end, he devoted himself to directing movies. He was also a poet when speaking about him, a sentimental chronicler of local history with his films and, in everything, a militant of tenderness. As an artist he marked a before and after in Argentine culture.
Line up outside a movie theater to see, for example, Nazareno and the wolf. That happened to many people in 1975. The film had more than three million viewers at its theatrical release and was, for a long time, the highest grossing in the history of national cinema. Almost 40 years later it happened again, in downtown Buenos Aires, to see in 35 millimeters, perhaps for the first time, that piece as iconic as it is strange. Beautiful and to cry. The contradiction that makes it unique and still modern, like all of Favio’s work.
What are that world, those colors, the lump in the throat that keeps happening, the tears from the audience. So sad and so authorial. Far from anything expected, which at the same time impacts the popular. It could be a genre film, somewhere between fantasy and horror, but rooted in Guarani mythology. Written by Favio and his brother Jorge Zuhair Jury, frequent collaborators, and based on the homonymous radio play by Juan Carlos Chiappe, it explores the myth of the werewolf, in the tone of a love tragedy.
This November 5 marks a decade since the death of the artist, creator of tenderness, and tributes continue to multiply throughout the country. Many people will enjoy the pleasure of the reunion and the youngest of an ideal opportunity to discover it.
Favio was central as well as lateral in national cinematography. Nazareno Cruz and the wolf, the doves and the screams (this is his full name) is the heart of the matter of its inexplicable and founding narrative form. He connects with the people taking popular imaginaries and myths, crossing that with a personal language, almost erudite, and at the same time laughing at everything. Bold and passionate, he was an antenna with the exceptionality of knowing how to capture the feeling of what we call a people.
That alchemy also happens in John Moreira, which tells a story of magic founded on myth and epic, but carried out by failed, contradictory human beings. It is 1975 and Favio films the pampa as if it were a western, with that rhythm and tone. Renegade the director as his main character, he laughs at Ingmar Bergman – a reference associated with high culture, far from the popular – and parody the seventh sealbut instead of chess, he has his character play trick against death.
It is a gesture, without pamphlet, of someone who was made from very low. His father left the family when he was very young. In his childhood and adolescence he was in different institutes for minors, from where he always escaped, and even he went to jail. A little older, he was a seminarian and also went through the navy. He started working in radio, where his mother, Laura Favio, was an actress and writer. At the age of 20 he moved to Buenos Aires.
His acting career began in 1958 as an extra in The angel of Spain, by Enrique Carreras. Sponsored by Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, he got his first roles in different films and in 1965 he finally premiered his debut feature, Chronicle of a lonely boy. The original idea had been to tell his escape from a police station in Mendoza, but writing the script with his brother they ended up adding his misadventures in juvenile institutions. The result is the portrait of a stark childhood, narrated with both beauty and crudeness, in black and white, with a succession of photographically perfect shots. An overwhelming feeling of tenderness and restlessness that is considered one of the best films of national cinema.
take care of poetry
“I am not a Peronist director, but I am a Peronist who makes movies and that shows at some point. At no time do I plan to go down the line through my art, because I am afraid that poetry will escape me”, he once said and it is one of his iconic phrases that also set the tone of his inexplicable but accessible work. Perón, symphony of a feeling It is a documentary from 1999. It lasts six hours, it was never released in commercial theaters, but it became a militant classic.
“I became a Peronist because you can’t be happy alone” is another of his wonderful dixit. And with that pulse of being in company, he got his audience used to his not always linear narrative, to the shots that they explore artistically, to the exciting and passionate stories where everything explodes, but like in a bolero. A dance in the sentimental boxing ring. A march in which the crowd sings, expresses its joy along with its claim.
when you wanted to produce Dependent He did not obtain financial support from the National Film Institute (INCAA), some say that his decision to become a romantic singer was motivated by obtaining funds to continue making films. He did very well in music, that’s another story, but in cinematography he was able, then, to make one of his most experimental films. With an absolutely disruptive montage and filmed in black and white, he builds a tense drama, with a fiercely realistic representation that lets the sinister emerge through ominous frames. The lighting, the sound, everything makes just a patio the most disturbing place possible.
He never militated organically and never accepted political office, but he met Perón on several occasions, whom he loved since childhood. In 1973 he participated as a presenter in the welcome ceremony for the exile that ended in the Ezeiza Massacre. There he had a brave attitude to defend a group of militants who were being tortured. Three years later, with the military coup, Favio had to leave the country. Upon his return, in 1993, he premiered Cat, the Monkeywhere he narrates Peronism from that peripheral figure to his cosmology, that of the Argentine boxer who died in 1963.
It was at one point Favio’s revenge for dream, dream, a 1976 wonder that was a critical and box-office flop at the time. She has luxuries that make her forever on the cult movie shelf. It is one of adventures and scams, with touches of comedy, and deeply tender. It tells the story of Carlos (who is Monzón, who is called Charles, because he looks like Bronson), an innocent, gullible municipal employee who meets Rulo (Gianfranco Pagliaro), and follows him to Buenos Aires to become an artist. . It is full of gems and perhaps the most iconic is the boxer with a head full of rollers, in the intimacy of his romance with the Italian singer.
Always on the run, Favio makes his broken, flawed, imperfect heroes out of class. The romance of Aniceto and Francisca (which is actually called This is the romance of Aniceto and Francisca, how it was cut short, sadness began and a few other things…) is the second of his three black and white films. He premiered it in 1967, the following year it won the Silver Condor for Best Film and it was his recurring obsession.
It is the drama in a town key, in Mendoza, of a love triangle between Aniceto (Federico Luppi), the decent Francisca (Elsa Daniel) and the sexual Lucía (María Vaner). It is the story of the confrontation between the two women, of the idea of good and evil, almost biblical, also pop. It is an almost masterpiece to which the director returned three decades later. The result was Anicetohis latest film released, the story recreated in ballet starring Hernán Piquín, with music by Nicolás Jury, his youngest son.
The headscarf, which was purely flirty to hide the parting of her hair, caused the rumor that she had cancer. But his chronic and fatal disease was hepatitis C. Leonardo Favio died at the age of 74, a decade ago, and left as a legacy a cinematographic work that is a continuation of mastery, entertainment and both effectiveness and affectivity. «
Five selected films
Chronicle of a Boy Alone (1965)
The story of Polín (Diego Puente), a boy abandoned by his family who ends up in a reform school. His debut feature, a drama very close to his personal history.
The Clerk (1969)
Fernández (Walter Vidarte) works in a hardware store and dreams of inheriting the business when its owner dies. He is in love with Miss Plasini (Graciela Borges). He lives waiting, vitiated by his fears and darkness.
Juan Moreira (1973)
A rereading of the history of the icon of rebellion. The gaucho Juan Moreira, played fiercely and brilliantly by Rodolfo Bebán.
Nazareno Cruz and the Wolf (1975)
Nazareno Cruz (Juan José Camero) is a young peasant who, being the seventh and last son, runs the risk of being a werewolf. He could keep humanity from him, but as long as he doesn’t fall in love with him. And well, that’s always a problem.
Dream, Dream (1976)
Carlos Monzón and Gian Franco Pagliaro, the best unlikely duo to star in a moving comedy. It was the last film he directed before stepping away from directing for 17 years. His comeback was with Gatica, el Mono in 1993.
– Chronicle of a lonely child (1965).
– This is the romance of Aniceto and Francisca, how it was cut short, sadness began and a few more things… (1966).
– The dependent (1969).
– Juan Moreira (1973).
– Nazareno Cruz and the wolf (1975).
– Dream, dream (1976).
– Gatica, the Monkey (1993).
– Perón, symphony of feeling (1999).
– Aniceto (2008).