Pablo Trapero is not yet 40 years old but has already directed six films and produced even more, an unusual feat not only in Argentina, where he lives and works with his wife - actress and coproducer Martina Gusman -, but worldwide.
Since the beginning of his career and, later, when he started working with Gusman, Trapero showed a particular talent for making personal films, filled with his own themes and obsessions, that also had commercial appeal. Carancho, his latest film, was the most successful of his career and is, from beginning to end, a rough and tough 'Trapero' film, with no concessions to the so-called 'market', even when the main actor is Argentina's top star Ricardo Darín.
As the official story already goes, Trapero was a big part of the seismic generation change that took place in Argentine Cinema during the second part of the 90's. His first movie, Crane World (Mundo Grúa), gave him international visibility, winning awards in Venice, Rotterdam and Havana, among many others. Crane World, a small film shot over weekends with friends, was also a surprise commercial hit in Argentina, allowing him to create a bigger, more dense, story about police corruption in El Bonaerense (2002), a film that was shown in Cannes.
After forming the production company, Matanza Cine, and starting to work with Martina Gusman, Trapero continued to direct films that showed different facets of his cinematic personality: from the low key comedy of Rolling Family (Familia rodante, 2004) to the tough family drama Born and Bred (Nacido y criado, 2006), a film in which his wife (a professional actress) also started appearing in front of the camera.
With Lion's Den (Leonera, 2008) and Carancho (2010), Trapero reconfirmed his place as one of Latin America's top filmmakers. Both were very well received in Cannes — Lion's Den was his first in competition for the Palme d'Or — and became hugely successful at home. And both, of course, showed the considerable strength and talent of Gusman as a lead actress, confirming the great instinct of Trapero with his characteristically unusual choice of actors. Her performance in Lions' Den has been bestowed the high accolade as one of the greatest in the history of Argentine cinema.
Carancho marked a new level of risk and exposition for Trapero: working with a well known star (with very few exceptions, his films always used little-known or non professional actors) such as Darín. And he handled it very well, creating a film that can be watched as a companion piece to El Bonaerense: another incursion into the dark world of crime in the Buenos Aires province. Carancho is a film noir with a realistic streak. And, as Lion's Den before it, a story about the pursuit of love even in the most difficult circumstances. You can say the same about all his movies. As different as they may look from the outside, at the core there are films about fighting moral corruption and finding a place in a tough world, with the help of the very few people who you trust and love.
A 'family guy', Trapero always used members of his own 'familia' in his movies, most famously his grandmother, Graciela Chironi, a main character in Crane World and Familia rodante. The same can be said about the structure of his company and his crew: a group of friends and collaborators who have been working together for more than a decade creating that same sense of 'home' their films have.
Pablo Trapero and Martina Gusman are one of the biggest creative forces of the last decade in Argentine cinema and will doubtless be a great inspiration for future generations of Latin American directors and producers.