Photo by Wilhelm Reinke
The John Hay Library takes great pleasure in announcing the opening of the Fernando Birri Archive of Multimedia Arts. It is an extraordinary collection documenting the long and continuing career of Fernando Birri, a celebrated and influential film maker, poet, writer, educator, artist, and theoretician.
Fernando Birri was born in Santa Fe, Argentina in 1925 and is honored as the Father of the new Latin American film movement, described as a form of revolutionary or Third Cinema. He has been a creative force in 43 films either as the director, actor, or subject. His most well-known films are Tire dié, ORG, and Un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormes. He was instrumental in the founding of 3 film schools: Instituto de Cinematografía de la Universidad del Litoral in Santa Fe, Argentina; Laboratorio Ambulante de Poéticas Cinematográficas in the Universidad de los Andes in Venezuela; and Escuela de Cine y Televisión de Tres Mundos (EICTV) in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. He has authored numerous books on film theory and taught classes on film making around the world. In addition, he is a prolific artist working in a wide range of media from pencils to computer graphics.
The Fernando Birri Archive of Multimedia Arts contains his films, videos, film scripts, diaries, writings, art work, correspondence, poems, photographs, posters, and audio recordings. It is a comprehensive archive of his life and work and the essential resource for understanding not only the work of Birri but also the history and evolution of Latin American film during the 20th and 21st centuries.
All of his work and creative energy has been accomplished despite, or perhaps because of, his continual movement from one country to another. He left his native Argentina in 1950 to study film in Italy. But he was forced to leave Argentina in 1963 for political reasons. He kept on moving and has lived and worked in Brazil, Italy, Venezuela, Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba, Germany, and the United States. He describes his life this way:
“… I have to become a citizen of the world. And there is a very heart-rending phrase from an Argentinean filmmaker, who was killed by the dictatorship in Paris, Jorge Cedrón, which since then has come to be my motto: “Mi patria son mis zapatos [My country is my shoes]”. Life obliged me to that, so I accept it, I accept it well, and with dreams for the future. Period and enough.” (Interview by Mariluce Moura, 2006)