Ernesto Livon-Grosman was born and raised in Buenos Aires. In his early twenties, he moved to Patagonia, where he developed an interest in the history and the politics of that region. He later published Geografias imaginarias, a study about travel writers who created a mythical iconography of the Patagonian landscape, one in which the region is viewed as an uninhabited space despite the indigenous groups that have been living in the area for centuries.
During the last military dictatorship, Livon-Grosman emigrated to Costa Rica. He went back to Argentina in 1983 after the return of the democratic government. He now lives in the Boston area where he teaches literature and film at Boston College.
For Livon-Grosman, documentary making always implies an unavoidable merge between the personal and the public sphere. He is interested in making films in which the private becomes the extension of the public; he sees the hinge between the two as one of the most attractive places for experimentation.
Cartoneros (2006), his first film, uses the voice of a fictional narrator that comes back to Argentina after living many years abroad to tell the story of the new and expanding business of informal recycling as done by thousands of unemployed industrial workers. The film looks at a particular social crisis that was magnified by the financial breakdown of 2001 and inquires about the state of the long tradition of underground social organizations that have defined Argentina during the 20th century. How do people react to a crisis that sweeps aside all expectations of prosperity? What kind of alternative is possible in response to such a social and economic crisis? What does art have to say – if anything – about a process that challenges our sense of priorities? And what is this multi-million dollar informal activity telling us about what might be the ultimate environmental nightmare? These are some of the questions that Cartoneros would like to pose.