Anthology Film Archives


November 11 – November 22

Argentine writers Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares were famously friends, colleagues, and frequent collaborators – writing numerous stories together, including many under the pseudonym, Honorio Bustos Domecq – but less heralded is their shared interest in the seventh art. Though many filmmakers have tried their hand at filming Borges and Casares’s novels and stories, these adaptations are only one aspect of the rich intersection between the world of cinema and their literary universe. This film series attempts to expand the resonance of these two major figures of the 20th century, looking beyond their literary fame to explore what made them men of cinema.

In the 1930s and 40s, Jorge Luis Borges contributed numerous pieces of film criticism to the celebrated publication SUR. Among his most quotable lines is his prophetic celebration of Orson Welles’s first masterpiece: “CITIZEN KANE suffers from gigantism, from pedantry, from tediousness. It is not intelligent, it is a work of genius – in the most nocturnal and Germanic sense of that bad word.” His tough-love interest in the domestic Argentine film industry also bestowed upon the world this immortal observation: “This film – LOS MUCHACHOS DE ANTES NO USABAN GOMINA – is unquestionably one of the best Argentine films I have seen, which is to say, one of the worst films in the world.”

Adolfo Bioy Casares took a different approach. He was interested in cinema throughout his life, embracing its ability to grant access to a world parallel to ours. An impossibly romantic cinephile, his love for the medium defied reason, whether he was falling madly in love with a close-up of Louise Brooks or allowing events from the screen to bleed into the real world.

In the mid-1960s, Borges and Casares started corresponding with young filmmaker Hugo Santiago. An assistant to Robert Bresson, Santiago established a relationship with the literary duo that would soon result in Borges and Casares penning the scripts for his first two features, the celebrated INVASION and the almost entirely neglected THE OTHERS (LES AUTRES).

As the two authors’ fame grew exponentially over the years, filmmakers around the world drew inspiration from their writings, spurred on to create their own innovative and deeply personal work. Rather than adaptation, these films would take unbridled liberties with the original sources, liberating a new form that would enlarge the possibilities existing between film and literature. And still other filmmakers would make films that, without qualifying even as loose adaptations, would have been very different if they hadn’t encountered the work of Borges and Casares.

A celebration of the myriad ways in which the cinema has been enriched by Borges and Casares’s writings, this film series is divided into four sections, reflecting their diverse connections to the cinema: Scripts, Adaptations, Inspirations, and Cinephilia.

MEMORABLE FANTASIES has been guest-curated by Matías Piñeiro, whose new film HERMIA & HELENA will be enjoying its NYC premiere at the New York Film Festival on October 9 & 11. Piñeiro also wrote the introduction above and, except where noted, all film descriptions.

The series is sponsored by Penguin Classics, the publisher of numerous works by Borges, including the COLLECTED FICTIONS, and presented with invaluable support from the Consulate General of Argentina in New York and the New York Review of Books (NYRB), the publishers of the English-language editions of Casares’s THE INVENTION OF MOREL and ASLEEP IN THE SUN.


Special thanks to Matías Piñeiro; Eduardo Almirantearena (Deputy Consul General); John Fagan, John Siciliano & Nora McCarthy (Penguin Classics); Nicholas During (NYRB); and to Alex Cox; Mariano Llinás; Brian Belovarac (Janus Films); Laurence Berbon (Tamasa); Marco Cicala (Istituto Luce Cinecittà); Eric Di Bernardo (Rialto Pictures); Jack Durwood (Paramount); Sophie Faudel (Mélisande Films); Marine Goulois & Lise Zipci (Films du losange); Matt Jones (UNCSA); Dennis Lim & Dan Sullivan (Film Society of Lincoln Center); Laurence Millereux (Forum des images); Maria Nuñez (INCAA); Fernando Martín Peña; Richard Suchenski (Bard College); and Barbara Varani (Compass Film).

< Back to Series