In Memoriam: Argentine Director Hugo Santiago


France-based Argentine filmmaker Hugo Santiago died yesterday at the age of 78. He was best known for his debut feature Invasión, based on a screenplay by literary icons Adolfo Bioy Casares and Jorge Luis Borges, and considered one of the masterpieces of Latin American cinema. 

Born Hugo Santiago Muchnick in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1939, he studied Literature, Philosophy and Music at the Buenos Aires University, and between 1959 to 1966 he served as assistant director to Robert Bresson. Leaving his mentor, he returned to Buenos Aires where he made directed the short films Los contrabandistas (1967) and Los taitas (1968), followed by his first feature, Invasión

Starring Lautaro Murúa, Olga Zubarry, Juan Carlos Paz, Martín Adjemián, Roberto Villanueva and Lito Cruz, the film premiered in the first edition of the Directors' Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, and it became a cult film. With its depictions of violence and assassination, Invasión was banned from television during Argentina's military dictatorship and the original negatives were disappeared in 1978. Considered lost for many years, a 35mm print was discovered in 2004, allowing for the film to be screened again in numerous international cinematheques.

In 1974 Santiago directed in France The Others / Les autres, also from a script by Borges and Bioy Casares, which premiered in the official competition of the Cannes Film Festival. Other films he directed include See Here My Love / Écoute voir (1979) starring Catherine Deneuve and Les trottoirs de Saturne (1986), which premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

During the rest of the eighties and through the nineties he directed some films for the French  television including Électre, La fable des continents, La vie de Galilée, and Maurice Blanchot. In 2002 he directed the feature film The Wolf of the West Coast / Le loup de la côte Ouest, starring James Faulkner, Anna Mouglalis, and Gérard Watkins. In 2015 he returned to Buenos Aires to direct El cielo de centauro, co-written with filmmaker Mariano Llinás and starring Malik Zidi, Romina Paula, Roly Serrano and Carlos Perciavalle.