Matías Piñeiro has built an exciting body of work in his native Argentina with films like Viola and The Princess of France, often employing modern-day characters whose passions for Shakespeare are reflected by Bard-ian ripples in their daily lives. Now relocated from Buenos Aires to New York, Piñeiro’s immensely enjoyable Hermia & Helena offers an intriguing blend of his fresh sensibility and Shake- spearean concerns with a who’s who of today’s U.S. independent film scene.
The film itself shuttles between New York and Buenos Aires, and past and present, as we get to know Camila (Agustina Muñoz), who accepts a fellowship in New York to work on a new Spanish translation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But as she digs into her work, she falls prey to the endless attractions, distractions, and colorful characters offered by the Big Apple—and decides to embark on a personal quest to track down her biological father.
For his first New York picture, a major voice in contemporary Argentine cinema has offered us a real gift, bursting with a love for his new city and the incomparable cinephilia one finds there. Nearly every on-screen performer in Hermia & Helena reflects back to us an affection for today’s cinema, from MdFF favorites like Keith Poulson and Dustin Guy Defa (whose Person to Person is also part of MdFF 2017) to acclaimed filmmakers Mati Diop and Dan Sallitt.
Playful, poignant, and vibrantly multi-cultural, Hermia & Helena speaks with a voice all its own. Oh—and you need not know a thing about Shakespeare, nor Piñeiro’s prior work, to fully enjoy! (Eric Allen Hatch)