Drafted By: Bhuvinder Singh Vaid

Now a staple of the Vancouver cultural calendar, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival held its 11th annual program between January 20 and February 8 at varying venues across the city of Vancouver.  Long celebrated for allowing Vancouver theatre goers the opportunity to experience the works of experimental theatre companies from around the world, the PuSh Festival has seen many of these theatre companies return over the years to offer audiences something that is both exotic and familiar.  Cineastas, Argentinian experimental playwright and director Mariano Pensotti fourth contribution to the PuSh Festival (La Marea 2011, El Pasado Es Un Animal Grotesco 2012, Sometimes I Think I Can See You 2013), fuses the lives of four filmmakers from Buenos Aires to the stories of their films, offering the audience a theatrical experience that goes to the heart of what is actually so authentic in film and in theatre.

WWW.METROLIVINGZINE.COM NEWS IMAGE CREDIT http://bit.ly/1Es3Iar  PUSH: International Performing Arts festival Review of  Cineastas.

WWW.METROLIVINGZINE.COM NEWS IMAGE CREDIT http://bit.ly/1Es3Iar PUSH: International Performing Arts festival Review of Cineastas.

While the stage is a simple split level structure that evokes the power of the split screen techniques of film, the simultaneous performances of “real life” on the bottom level and of “represented life” on the top level are fused together through the inventive use of the narrator.  The five actors on stage move between the split levels of the story performing both the lives of the filmmakers and the represented lives of the films, but also helping to make sense of the frenetic pace of the story by taking on the calming voice of the narrator.  Those familiar with foreign films will know this technique of the omnipresent narrator offering ironic explanations to the scenes on screen, creating opportunities for comedy and also helping to move the story along.  However, the narrators in Cineastas are not disembodied voices but rather the actors standing in the midst of the “real” and “represented” scene they are narrating. 

The audience sees the struggles of the filmmakers through their process.  The famous commercially successful director tasked with making a romantic comedy while dealing with the news that he is dying and therefore will never know his young daughter.  The young aspiring director that is struggling to find the money to make his film critical of McDonalds while dealing with the fact that he works for the very same McDonalds that keeps promoting him. The art-house director trying to explore her own Russian heritage making a documentary about Soviet-era musicals while dealing with an unexpected pregnancy by a married Russian restaurateur.  The suddenly famous director fearful of becoming a flash in the pan at a loss of what to do next making a movie about a father’s return home from a long forgotten conflict forced to deal with her own father’s disappearance. 

Playwright and director Mariano Pensotti WWW.METROLIVINGZINE.COM NEWS IMAGE CREDIT http://bit.ly/1BqkJ5F PUSH: International Performing Arts festival Review of  Cineastas.

Playwright and director Mariano Pensotti WWW.METROLIVINGZINE.COM NEWS IMAGE CREDIT http://bit.ly/1BqkJ5F PUSH: International Performing Arts festival Review of Cineastas.

By exploring the process of these filmmakers as they struggle with their chaotic lives and the chaos that is their respective films, Pensotti is able to challenge the audience to consider if that is what lends authenticity to a film.  As the filmmakers struggle with their lives, the audience witnesses the almost unconscious choices they make in what of their own lives to represent in their films.  However, these almost unconscious choices are troubling due to the split levels of the story and the ongoing narration, as an attentive audience is also able to recognize how the representations from the films begin to become the real lives of the filmmakers.  This is perhaps Pensotti’s masterstroke in Cineastas for he forces the audience to consider the problematic nature of an old axiom: does art imitate life, or does life imitate art, and in either case, how can we every have any claim to art or a life that is authentic?

More information about the PuSh Festival, as well as Cineastas, can be found at http://pushfestival.ca.  The next Push Festival runs January 19 to February 7, 2016


Author: Bhuvinder Singh Vaid

About The Author: Bhuvinder Singh Vaid

Bhuvinder Singh Vaid is a PhD candidate at Simon Fraser University in the Faculty of Education in the area of Philosophy of Education. His academic background is varied, having lectured on educational philosophy and sociology, as well as children’s literature, curriculum development, conceptual design thinking, and academic writing. His research focuses upon spatial philosophies in educational policy, curriculum development, and instructional practices. He utilizes his academic training to draw critical attention to what he has coined the #CultureOfStupidity, the glorification and celebration of uncritical thought by the media. Twitter / IG: @JimBombay