Daniel Burman’s ‘Transmitzvah’ Sings and Dances Its Way Into Cannes Cinéma de la Plage Screening

Famed Argentine director Daniel Burman’s new feature “Transmitzvah,” his first in nearly eight years, will receive a Cinéma de la Plage world premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Burman first broke out internationally with a double Berlin Silver Bear win in 2004 for his fourth feature, “Lost Embrace,” and became one of Latin America’s most exportable box office draws in the following years. However, founding Oficina Burman, which was incorporated into The Mediapro Studio, his attention has shifted to creating and producing series for the past seven years, most notably Prime Video’s “Iosi, the Regretful Spy,” reckoned by many as the best title playing Berlinale Series in 2022.

More from Variety

“For 20 years, I made films. In my twenties, thirties, forties, I made a film every two years,” he recalled in a recent conversation with Variety. “Now, I went seven years only making series. When I went back to the cinema and saw the world again through a single lens, a single camera, and the extraordinary and unique freedom that cinema offers, it made me emotional. I remembered why I dedicated myself to this and not to dancing or painting. When I’m shooting, I feel like I’m in a film. It’s like a kind of paradise.”

Burman went big with his return to cinema, co-writing (with Ariel Gurevich) and directing a flamboyant musical comedy described in its synopsis as a “love story between siblings.” In the film, Rubén, the youngest child of the Singman family, challenges tradition by deciding to have a Bat Mitzvah rather than a Bar Mitzvah. 20 years later, now identifying as Mumy Singer, the youngest sibling has carved out a fabulous life as a famous Yiddish singer.

After a family tragedy, though, Mumy returns to the family’s hometown, where she loses her voice. Although she has found fame and success, Mumy still struggles with other aspects of adulthood and her close relationship with her brother Eduardo holds the key to greater maturity.

The transition in “Transmitzvah” is not about physical change.

“It’s a film about the transition of our lives, which we refer to as childhood to adulthood, but is actually throwing ourselves into the abyss of nothingness, of identity, of learning who we are and what we are here for,” Burman explained of the film’s overarching narrative. “We learn that there isn’t limitless room for everything within us and that each of us is different and has to make our own path. That path is what we call identity. We know the path leads nowhere, because there is no day when a person ever fully knows who they are, but that path should be free of prejudices and obstacles.”


Fuelling the film’s musical action is an accommodating cast led by Spanish actress Penélope Guerrero (“Dressed in Blue,” “Sky Rojo”), who is joined by Gustavo Bassani (“Yosi, the Regretful Spy”), Juan Minujin (“El Marginal”), Alejandro Awada (“Nine Queens”), Alejandra Flechner (“Argentina, 1985″) and Carla Quevedo (“The Secret in Their Eyes”).

With “Transmitzvah,” Burman returns to themes of family and identity that are present in many of his earlier films, such as “Lost Embrace,” “The Tenth Man,” and “Empty Nest.”

This time around, however, Burman examines a very modern interpretation of identity and a propensity, particularly among young people, to get caught up in group thinking.

“This is a film about the search for identity, which is my favorite theme and my obsession,” Burman explained. “I think there has been a paradigm shift lately where gender identity has become a shortcut to more general identity. I see young people who believe their entire personality begins and ends with their gender identity. They behave as part of a collective rather than human beings. So in the film, this one sister is trans, but that’s not her entire identity.”

Setting “Transmitzvah” apart from much of his work, the film features several song-and-dance numbers that fuel its lively and energetic storyline. Burman said that this story required a musical touch. “Words contain energy, don’t they? And words make sense. I value words very much. But in some instances, words aren’t enough. The body and our instinctive expressions of our biology can go further. Sometimes, characters have to dance,” he explained.

“Transmitzvah” is produced by Oficina Burman and parent The Mediapro Studio, which is handling global sales.

“The Mediapro Studio embodies many of the themes in this and my other films,” Burman said of his long relationship with the company. “It’s a place with no strict dogmas, no pre-established rules. It’s a home for talent, and it has been, therefore, every vital moment of the stories I thought were necessary to tell. I believe it’s the only studio in the world where the talent really is at the center of everything, rather than the talent being a servant to the company.”

He says that without the help of the studio, his ideas would struggle to find their form.

“Projects are energy first that circulate through me, but they have no form. It’s never a series, nor a film, nor a musical, but more a creative need that circulates as energy,” he explained. “When I start to bring it out and study it, I get an idea of what it might look like. Then, the producers at the studio help me better confront that energy and finish shaping and finding where it will find an audience.”

More often than not, the strategy pays off, and audiences show up or sit down in droves to see the results of Burman’s labors.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.