“Me, Tina Modotti, happy because free” by Gérard de Cortanze: an exceptional destiny of a woman

«Moi, Tina Modotti, heureuse parce que libre» de Gérard de Cortanze: un destin exceptionnel de femme

Always inspired by exceptional women to the destiny out of the ordinary, the French writer Gérard de Cortanze focused on the life of a star of the silent film became a photographer and political activist on the international scene in his new novel, Me, Tina Modotti, happy because free. An intense life, a life of wandering alongside artists and intellectuals.

Born in northern Italy in 1896, Tina Modotti immigrated alone to San Francisco at the age of 17 years. Legendary beauty, she became a star of silent movies, then as a photographer and lover of photographer Edward Weston. Traveling in Mexico, she rubbed shoulders with intellectuals and artists, including Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo, who became his intimate friend.

The destiny had in store for him a checkmark poorly cut : the murder of her lover, the Cuban revolutionary Antonio Mella, in front of his eyes. His life changed suddenly, making it a committed activist of the communist party.

Gérard de Cortanze, author of 90 books, has been completely fascinated by the tragic fate of this outstanding woman. It was an immersion in its universe, ranging up to travel in Italy, Spain, Russia, and Mexico to better understand it.

“I like to travel a lot in parallel with what I write, he comments. I put my step in certain territories of Mexico. I wandered in Mexico city, where strolled Tina Modotti. In Moscow, it is the same. It’s all part of the novel.”

Silent film

He wanted to tell the story of how Tina Modotti, a young actress in the Italian theater of San Francisco, has suddenly been caught by the silent cinema. “This is a very exciting time. The cinema is being born in the United States. There is not really a stage director known – these are technicians who make movies. They will look for their actors in the drama troupes of Little Italy.”

Political commitment

Tina Modotti, very interested in politics, had a different destiny. “She, who could have become a movie star living in environments frivolous, feels that his destiny is elsewhere, in artistic creation and in the photo, and then in the political commitment. It is that fact that it separates the immense photographer Edward Watson.”

“Very quickly, she realizes that something is missing – and this is really the theme of the book, is to bind the policy, and photography. His photographic art, it is never separate aesthetics and politics. She manages to combine the two, but she refused to make the photo of propaganda.”

Gérard de Cortanze has discovered Tina Modotti working on Frieda Kahlo, the subject of a previous novel, The lovers of Coyoacan.

“This is Tina Modotti, who will initiate Frieda Kahlo to the policy. And what interests me in this topic is that it brings together my two main subjects, the Italy, because I am the son of Italian immigrants, and Mexico, because very early on, I made friends with the poets Carlos Fuentes, Julio Cortazar. They also introduced me to the art of hispanic and cultural world of Latin america.”

  • Gérard de Cotanze has received the prix Historia du roman for a Woman that short, telling the story of the life of Violette Morris.
  • A mini-series on television for six episodes on the life of Tina Modotti is in development, with Monica Bellucci in the lead role.
  • It has four pieces of theatre in preparation.
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