Fernando Solanas, Argentine Filmmaker and Politician, Dies at 84

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Fernando Solanas, Argentine Filmmaker and Politician, Dies at 84

This obituary is part of a series about people who died from the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

BUENOS AIRES – When the Argentine Senate debated legalizing abortion in 2018, then Senator Fernando Solanas fervently supported the proposed law, stating that sexual pleasure was a “fundamental human right.”

The bill was rejected, but Mr Solanas’ speech and his unusual argument quickly went viral in a nation bitterly divided by the issue.

Mr Solanas was a consistent voice on the left, often advocating human and environmental rights – whether in politics or in his other life – as an influential filmmaker whose films and documentaries marked a new era in Latin American cinema.

Mr Solanas died on November 6th as a result of Covid-19 in Paris, the Argentine Foreign Ministry said in a statement. He was 84 years old.

Fernando Ezequiel Solanas was born on February 16, 1936 in Olivos, Buenos Aires Province. His father, Héctor, was a surgeon and his mother, María Julia Zaldarriaga, was a painter and poet. Mr. Solanas briefly studied law before attending the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts.

He graduated in 1962 and went into advertising.

This work enabled him to raise enough money to do “La Hora de los Hornos” (“The Hour of the Furnaces”), a three-part documentary about neo-colonialism and political violence that lasted four hours and 20 minutes and that he participated in Octavio Getino staged. It was released in 1968.

Described by Vincent Canby in the New York Times in 1971 as “a unique film exploration of the soul of a nation,” the film caused a sensation abroad, but was officially banned in Argentina, then under military rule, although it was screened in secret.

Mr. Solanas and Mr. Getino founded the influential Grupo Cine Liberación (the liberation film group) and coined the term “Third Cinema” to describe a burgeoning Latin American film movement that had a revolutionary undercurrent and tried to break free from production standards in Hollywood and Europe set.

After receiving death threats, Mr Solanas went into exile in Europe in 1976 when a brutal military dictatorship took hold.

Mr. Solanas returned to Argentina in 1983 and directed some of his best-known works, including “Sur” (“South”) for which he won the Best Director Award at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.

In 1991, Mr. Solanas was shot six times in the leg; The perpetrators were never caught, but he blamed then-President Carlos Menem, whom he bitterly rejected. His formal political career began two years later when he won a seat in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Argentine Congress.

Mr. Solanas, known by the nickname Pino, returned to filmmaking after his four-year tenure ended. He made another foray into politics a decade later when he ran for the presidency in 2007, but received less than 2 percent of the vote. He returned to the House of Commons of Congress in 2009 and was elected Senator in 2013.

He was named UNESCO Ambassador last year.

Mr. Solanas had a brief early marriage and later two children with Beatriz Trixie Amuchastegui. In 1994 he married the Brazilian actress Angela Correa, whom he met in 1992 while directing his film “El Viaje” (“The Journey”).

She survived him with two children, Juan Diego Solanas and Victoria Eva Solanas; a stepson, Flexa D’Arco Iris Correa Lopes; a brother, Jorge; a sister, María Marta Solanas; and three grandchildren.