Brazil’s Davi Pretto on ‘Rifle,’ Brazil’s Rural Diaspora, Doc-Fiction Boundaries

Davi Pretto
Courtesy: Davi Pretto

Director is prepping suspense drama ’South’ and horror feature ‘Field Exercise’

In his feature debut, “Castanha,” Davi Pretto won upbeat reactions at Berlin’s Forum for a docu/fiction character study of cabaret-performer João Carlos Castanha, a gay man living with his elderly mom, working as an actor and drag queen hostess in local clubs, and still enraptured by his memories and the music of the early ‘80s gay scene.

Pretto’s sophomore outing “Rifle,” which screens at Ventana Sur’s Copia Cero, world premiered at the 2016 Brasilia Film Festival, where it took best film, a critics prize, screenplay and sound. As a project, it was presented at the San Sebastian Fest’s Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum, Brazil’s BrLab and the Berlinale Talent Project Market.

Produced by Porto Alegre-based Tokyo Filmes in co-production with Germany’s Autentika Films, “Rifle” once more explores fiction/non-fiction boundaries, as well as the personal dilemmas “Castanha”’s main character experienced.

“I’m not sure where exactly is the line between fiction and reality, Pretto said, adding he didn’t adopt any fly-on-the-wall approach to hi subjects. “Basically, I followed classic fiction method to shoot it.”

“Rifle” was shot in Vacaíqua, Southern Brazil, rolling countryside near to the border with Uruguay, using non-professional actors from the region.

Its background is the rampant redistribution of land in rural Brazil as small landowners plots are bought up by big landowners, aiming to move in and plant vast plains of soya and rice.

“The inhabitants of the region play the characters of a story that is not their own –even if it might be– in a narrative somewhere between a road movie, a Western and a suspense movie,” Pretto observed.

He added: “It’s a film about identity in the empty, post-exodus, rural parts of my country, about people who live there and are increasingly forced to take up an urban existence, one of decay. Because of that, it ends up also being a film about violence.”

The Brazilian filmmaker is currently writing two projects: “South,” a period suspense drama set in the 19th century during one of the longest wars in Brazil; and “Field Exercise,” a horror film set against a military context in contemporary Brazil, Pretto told Variety.

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