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Art Changes Life Changes Art.

February 17, 2015

Mariano Pensotti’s Cineastas is a story layered with the familiar and unfamiliar. Cineastas follows the lives of four very different film makers, each at different stages in their lives and careers. As they explore, and make their art, their art changes them, and in turn they alter their movies.

Throughout the Play, the stage is as much a character as anyone else. The stage is presented as a split screen, almost as if a commentary within a movie. The narration takes the form of a director’s commentary as well. The lower level of the stage is where real life takes place; the lives of the Directors, their friends, family, and passers through. The upper screen/stage is where scenes from the Director’s movies take place.

The use of a split screen gives the audience a unique view into the artistry of film making. Allowing us to see how life and art shape each other simultaneously. Mariano shows this reshaping of lives through art with a powerful underlying layer. The lower screen slowly transforms to match the upper screen. The changing screen represents the real world influenced by the fictional world show in the “movies”.

Cineastas is a Play about movies, and how their creation shapes the lives of those involved. To this effect there are several calls to movies themselves. As I said before the Play is narrated in a similar fashion to a director’s commentary. The people go about their lives in the lower screen, and the actors (in the movies) go about their story on the upper screen simultaneously. The narrator is more readily heard over the events unfolding on both screens. The events of life and art are explained, and put into context. As conflicts in life alter the movies, this is explained. As scenes in the movies inspire change in the Director’s lives, this is put into context as well.

What you are presented with is a surreal landscape. The audience is watching life through the lens of a director’s commentary. An abstract view on what has happened, and how each action, often unseen, and unknown by most, alters the world around them. Another powerful tool which paints this director’s commentary approach to viewing a story is the open caption translations. Cineastas is presented in Spanish, but the captions are in English. The captions are projected onto the 24 inches separating the upper and lower screens. This draws the focus of the English speaking audience to the center of the action. The use of captions adds another call back to the idea that we are watching a director’s cut. It has the look and feel of a foreign film. At times the captions are long sentences, much longer than what was said. The opposite is true, long courses of dialogue are boiled down to simple sentences. This is a common trait among subtitled films, and it is an enjoyable one, for those who watch foreign films with subtitles. It adds a level of familiar comfort.

The director’s lives, and their movies are best left to the discovery of the audience. I will point out my favorite movies inside the Play; a documentary about musicals throughout the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. In a foreign language Play, about movies shaping our lives, a movie analyzing movies is entirely surreal. The fact that the movies analyzed themselves were foreign movies, added a layer of transcendence. One part in particular was an entirely red scene; it had a vague memory of a spaghetti western.

Cineastas is at times surreal, transcendental, nostalgic, and contemplative. The use of various symbolic tools by Mariano, coupled with the superb acting skills of the cast paint a story that is both familiar, and foreign. Distant, and close.


Cineastas (Written and Directed by Mariano Pensotti) shows through February 21 at the Redcat.

For more information please visit

Cineastas is presented in Spanish with English open captioning.

From → Reviews

One Comment
  1. Mark Hein permalink

    Nice job on a wickedly difficult piece.

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