Argentinean Director Eliseo Subiela Dies

Eliseo Subiela (left) with Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti

Eliseo Subiela (left) with Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti

Argentinean filmmaker Eliseo Subiela died today at the age of 71 in Buenos Aires. Born on December 27, 1944 in the Argentinean capital, he studied Literature at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, and also studied philosophy at the same university and film at the La Plata Film School. 

At age 17 he directed his first short documentary film Un largo silencio, about a psychiatric hospital, which is awarded at the Viña del Mar Film Festival. He worked as assistant director in four feature films directed by Leonardo Favio, Armando Bó, Francisco Vasallo, and Ralph Pappier. He also worked as creative director in an advertising agency.

In 1980 he directed his debut feature film La conquista del paraíso starring Arturo Puig, Kátia D'Angelo and Alicia Bruzzo, followed by the sci-fi drama Man Facing Southeast / Hombre mirando al sudeste in 1986, his most acclaimed film which has been considered a milestone in Argentinean cinema.

Starring Lorenzo Quinteros, Hugo Soto, and Inés Vernengo, the film follows Dr. Denis, who works at a psychiatric institution who takes a special interest in Rantes, a patient who claims to be an extraterrestrial. He is intrigued by the man’s charisma and by his only visitor, a mysterious woman.

The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival where it won the International Critics' Award, and was also winner of the Best First Film Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival. Subiela long claimed that the 2001 American film K-PAX directed Iain Softley was a rip-off of his film, which was similar in themes and story and shared a strong resemblance. 

In 1989 he directed Last Images of the Shipwreck / Últimas imágenes del naufragio, followed by The Dark Side of the Heart / El lado oscuro del corazón in 1992 inspired by the poems of Oliverio Girondo, Mario Benedetti and Juan Gelman. Starring Darío Grandinetti, Sandra Ballesteros and Nacha Guevara, the film was the winner of the top prize at the Montreal World Film Festival. 

The success of the film inspired to make the sequel The Dark Side of the Heart 2 in 2001. Other feature films he directed are Heartlift /No te mueras sin decirme adónde vas (1995), Wake Up Love / Despabílate amor (1996), Don't Look Down / No mires para abajo (2008), Hostage of an Illusion / Rehén de ilusiones (2009) and Vanishing Landscapes / Paisajes devorados (2012). He was reportedly working on a new film project titled Final Cut / Corte Final.