Solo for Humanity

01 May 2019

Czech Film

Solo for Humanity

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This year’s lineup of the ACID programme at Cannes IFF premieres Solo, directed by Artemio Benki, a sensitive piece about a young Argentinean composer and piano virtuoso named Martin, who has suffered a nervous breakdown and is recovering at the most highly regarded, but also controversial, psychiatric hospital in Latin America. As the most promising talent of his generation, Martin is trying to find a way to overcome his mental illness and return to life outside the walls.

Artcile by Markéta Šantrochová for Czech Film Magazine / Summer 2019

What inspired you to make this film? How did you meet your main protagonist?

I visited the Borda Hospital for the first time in December 2014. I remember the place, the faces. I wanted to come back. I felt there was a story there I had to tell. When I returned some time later, I met Martin. He was sitting, focused and passionate, tapping away on a small table as if it were a piano. Suddenly, a childhood memory of mine came back to me: My parents once tested my will by promising to buy me a piano if I would practice on the tabletop one hour a day for three months. After two months, I gave up. Even from a distance, it was clear that Martin wasn’t just an ordinary patient but an accomplished musician. Other patients were hanging around, watching and listening to this curious “tabletoptapping” sonata in respectful silence. I approached out of curiosity. After a few minutes, Martin finished playing. I could see the emotion in the eyes of his audience. I asked who he was. They said: “Martin, the maestro.” A few days later, I came back to the Borda. That day, Martin was playing the piano at the hospital’s cultural center. Filled with emotion, he interpreted a complicated piece by Mozart, his fingers dancing swiftly and easily over the keyboard. We started talking. Gradually, he opened up to me, telling me about his first composition, which, in a way, was what had driven him into the hospital.

What is the structure of the film?

The narrative of Solo is essentially focused on Martin. What interests me about his trajectory — he’s in the hospital and plans to get out — is that, in the process, he draws a line between inside and outside. He’s trying to find his place, and it’s in this intermediate world between “insanity” and “normality” that he creates a safe space for himself. This border between normality and abnormality is one of the film’s main themes.

Solo is a coproduction between the Czech Republic, France, Argentina, and Austria, supported by the Czech Film Fund (€57,692), Creative Europe–MEDIA, Eurimages, and the Centre national du cinema et de l’image animee (CNC). International sales are being handled by Slingshot Films from Italy.

The ACID programme at Cannes IFF, created in 1993, presents nine feature films, selected by filmmakers and members of the Association for the Distribution of Independent Cinema. The last Czech film to be featured in the ACID lineup was The Way Out, by Petr Vaclav, in 2014.

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