Influential Argentine filmmaker and screenwriter José Martínez Suárez has died today in Buenos Aires at the age of 93 from complications of pneumonia. A renowned figure in its home country, he was the oldest brother of popular twin actresses Mirtha and Silvia Legrand, and as best know for his films El Crack (1960) and Los Chantas (1975), as well as for his tenure as president of the Mar del Plata Film Festival for over ten years, and as professor of numerous film students.
Born October 2, 1925 in Villa Cañás in the province of Santa Fe, Martínez Suárez’s film career started in 1941 when he accompanied his sisters to a film studio. There he fell in love with cinema and found his way from helper to production assistant and to directing assistant, working with several directors including Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, Kurt Land, Ralph Pappier and Daniel Tinayre, who would later become his brother-in-law by marrying Mirtha. He worked on more than 20 films since 1949.
In 1959 directed his first documentary feature Altos hornos Zapla (1959), and one year later directed his debut fiction film El crack (1960). Since then he worked in over 20 films, directing Dar la cara (1962), Viaje de una noche de verano (1965), Los chantas (1974), Los muchachos de antes no usaban arsénico (1976). His last film was Noches sin lunas ni soles in 1984.
Martínez Suárez also developed a solid career as a film professor, becoming the professional mentor of numerous emerging filmmakers including Lucrecia Martel, Juan José Campanella and Gustavo Taretto. In 2008, he became the president of the prestigious Mar del Plata International Film Festival, the only class A film festival in Latin America, serving as the head of the festival until his death. In 2002 he received the Silver Condor, the most important film award in the South American nation, for his professional career.