The Academy of the Muses: A Pedagogic Experience

From the Department of Philology of the University of Barcelona, Rafaelle Pinto and his male and female students, especially female students, study Dante in depth, focusing on his platonic relationship with Beatriz. From the very beginning, we are part of a class, with its explanations and questions, answers and developments. However, the film, which seems to go in one direction, without even realizing, goes the other way.

José Luis Guerín tells a story from the love of literature and words, capable of creating different dimensions, enriching the world and shaking up the times. "If we didn’t have poetry, we would be walking dead people”, says a passage of The Academy of the Muses, and this idea is what moves the story: a deep fascination with words.

As an interesting counterpart, leaving that university micro-universe where this "pedagogic experience” seeks to redefine 21st Century muses, Rosa Delor, Rafaelle Pinto’ wife, stresses love as a "literary invention” and confronts her husband’s and her students’ practices.

Thus, we move between the university environment and Pinto’s private life. Guerín leads us through this universe, with delicately built frames, which are the perfect framework for deep reflections on literature and life through literature, on poetry "whose aim is to enlighten the world”.

Actors or non-professional actors, every human being is a bottomless well. 

The film sets out to redefine the concept of "muses” through Rafaelle Pinto’s subject. Did this issue come out of Pinto’s university activity or was it introduced by you to address a previous idea?

The starting point are professor and poet Rafaelle’s classes. Moved by his desire and initiative, I responded his invitation willing to experiment with my camera, even without a clear idea of what could come up there. Right away, I realized the classes were acquiring certain atmosphere because I was there with my camera. The presence of my camera, of my tools, led these classes into a new cinematographic reality. My task was to privilege and develop this new reality.

Other films directed by you are also starred by non-professional actors. How is the process of working with them? What are the benefits and difficulties?

I try to bring them the characters we create together. They are fictional characters but they keep their names, jobs and part of their experiences. The community around this professor is there. We worked on a preexisting base. This approach to the characters has a different logic when working with the actors. As for the rest, I don’t think there are fixed rules. There are people who have the ability to live in front of the camera, to cause "true emotions” even starting from fictional hypothesis. Actors or non-professional actors, every human being is a bottomless well.

It represents the possibility to show the film to an Argentine audience, in the right context of a Festival I love. 

How much of the film came out of a literary script and how much came out from the protagonists?

Everything came out of interaction. Writing causes improvisations which cause writing which cause new improvisations… I wouldn’t know what comes from my writing and what comes from what happened during the scenes.

In different interviews you said that your latest works are like "soliloquies” of yourself and the camera, and that you wanted to work with a team again. How did you put together your technical crew?

Indeed, I wish to go back to team work, the kind of work that allows exchange and a greater control over cinematographic forms: light, movement, misce en scene, etc. In this case, the technical crew is my usual sound engineer, Amanda Villavieja. I was in charge of cinematography, editing and logistics. I don’t see it as a "soliloquy” since it has been a team work, created with the people I had in front of me.

What does the Mar del Plata Film Festival represent to you and what are your expectations regarding the film’s exhibition?

It represents the possibility to show the film to an Argentine audience, in the right context of a Festival I love.

FRI 30, 8.20 pm, PAS 1
SAT 31, 3.00 pm, PAS 1
SUN 8, 7.40 pm, AMB 4


Cristian Cimminelli


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