In this episode, we talk to Argentine director Matias Piñeiro about his latest film, Hermia & Helena, which is more inspired by than loosely based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Hermia & Helena premiered at the Venice Film Festival in August and has been traveling to film festivals around the world, including Toronto, New York, and London, ever since. Hermia & Helena is Piñeiro’s English language debut and the fourth film in his Shakespeare cycle, which started with the short Rosalinda in 2011, based on As You Like It, then Viola (available on Fandor) based on Twelfth Night in 2012 and The Princess of France (streaming on Netflix) based on Love’s Labour’s Lost in 2014.
Hermia & Helena centres around a pair of modern day women from Buenos Aires, named Carmen and Camila instead of Hermia and Helena. When the film opens, Carmen is preparing to finish a fellowship at a research institute in New York City and head back to Argentina. Camilla is set to take her place at the institute, including her apartment, in order to produce a Spanish translation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
For Piñeiro, the foreign world of New York City is like the forest the lovers head into near the beginning of Shakespeare’s Dream: it’s an unknown place where you can become someone else. Although Carmen and Camila don’t exactly trade lovers in New York City, they do both develop a flirtatious relationship with the institute’s Lukas, and Camila inherits some of Carmen’s other friends along the way.
Over the course of our chat, Piñeiro talked eloquently about his experience reading Shakespeare in translation and translating Shakespeare into Spanish himself. He talked about why he loves the Bard’s comedies, which he likened to 1930s screwball comedies, and how these stories allow him to explore new approaches to cinema.
Host: Alex Heeney (@bwestcineaste)
Editor and sound recordist: Alex Heeney