In Memoriam: Ricardo Piglia and Cinema

327 Notebooks  by Andrés di Tella

327 Notebooks by Andrés di Tella

Ricardo Piglia, one of Argentina's foremost contemporary writers died today at the age of 75 in Buenos Aires, after fighting a long battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The award winning and cherished writer had a fruitful and stimulating relationship with cinema throughout his career.

Piglia's bestseller novel Burnt Money / Plata quemada was adapted for the big screen in 2000 by the hand of director by Marcelo Piñeyro, becoming an international hit. The homoerotic crime thriller based on a real life story and starring Leonardo Sbaraglia and Eduardo Noriega, follows Nene and Angel, and their accomplice Cuervo, who participate in a botched bank robbery in 1965 Buenos Aires, then hide out from the police in Uruguay while the gang breaks down.

Burnt Money was released in the U.S. by Strand Releasing to strong reviews: "A bravura work that attests to Piñeyro's command of a style rich in texture and nuance and also of multilayered material" wrote the Los Angeles Times in its review of the film.

Piglia also worked as a screenwriter for four different films. In 1997 he wrote the screenplay for Cops / Comodines directed by Jorge Nisco and Daniel Barone starring Adrián Suar and Carlos Calvo. A year later he participated with filmmaker Héctor Babenco on Foolish Heart / Corazón iluminado, which participated in the official competition at the Cannes Film Festival. The film tells the story of Juan, who returns to his native Buenos Aires after 20 years to visit his dying father, and tries to find Ana, a former lover. 

That same year he wrote the screenplay for Sleepwalker / La sonámbula, which was directed by Fernando Spiner. His last screenplay was the 2000 adaptation of Juan Carlos Onetti's novel El astillero, which was directed by David Lipszyc and starred Norman Briski, Ulises Dumont, Cristina Banegas and Mía Maestro.

In 2015 filmmaker Andrés di Tella directed the documentary film 327 Notebooks / 327 cuadernos, a poignant and insightful portrait of Piglia in which the Argentinean writer returns to Argentina after having lived many years abroad. He returns with the purpose of reviewing for the first time the three-hundred-twenty-seven notebooks that constitute his personal diary, the record of 50 years of life.