Brazilian distaff director Juliana Antunes, whose feature debut “Baronesa” won the Latin American Competition at late-November’s Mar del Plata Festival, is developing road movie “Hit and Back Copacabana,” a take on the world of homosexual women in low-income neighborhoods.
Like “Baronesa,” which turned Antunes into a young director to track, “Hit and Back” is set up at Ventura, the Belo Horizonte-based company run by Antunes, Marcella Jacques and Laura Godoy, aimed at producing projects of female filmmakers which put women centerstage.
On of two best project winners at Mar del Plata’s LoboLab Co-production Meeting on Nov. 25, “Hit and Back Copacabana” was previously pitched at Brazil’s Cine Mundi, where Ventura earned an invitation to attend Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur.
“We went to Ventana Sur with both projects, trying for international distribution on ‘Baronesa’ and presenting ‘Hit and Back Copacabana’ to new producers, for future co-production,” producer Marcella Jacques said.
The new feature film project starts on an outskirts of Belo Horizonte, where “Baronesa” was filmed, and segues to Rio de Janeiro.
A fiction story of affections and disaffections, desires and journeys, “Hit and Back” follows Paulinha and Priscila, two roommate women in Belo Horizonte whose relationship is put to the test on a one-day trip to Rio’s Copacabana Beach to fulfill their dream of seeing the ocean.
On the tour bus, Priscila gets involved with Gabi, Paulinha’s old platonic infatuation, which will make an impact on the girls’ stay in Rio and on their way back home.
The filmmakers aim to “explore ways of experiencing life in the hood from the characters’ perspectives. The biggest example is the trip, which almost doesn’t allow them to actually spend time at their destination, where they’ll stay at the most from dawn until dusk,” Antunes said.
She added: “The realism of these situations clashes with the way the characters’ actions unfold. Owners of their bodies and destinies, they choose to give in to the world, even if for a short amount of time, due to financial limitations and the prejudices they suffer for being women.”
“Hit and Back” is in part a result of four years of intense immersion and living on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte dedicated to the making of “Baronesa,” a low-budget hybrid documentary where two women were witnesses of a war between local traffickers.
“Throughout that process, I met and lived with incredible people, like Paulinha and Priscila, whose presence and/or narrative did not fit the movie that I was making at that time,” Antunes said.
At Ventana Sur, Ventura partners are looking for funds to research and develop the script. “For us, it is the most important part of the process since we are dealing with non-professional actresses and complicated locations,” Jacques said.
“It’s fundamental to the project to make the trip to Rio with the actresses, look for locations on the road and have deep immersion in the outskirts of Rio,” she added.