Gregorio Graziosi, director of “Obra,” which won the best Latin American Film award from the FIPRESCI Intl. Federation of Film Critics at last month’s Rio Fest, has teamed with Marco Dutra (“Hard Labor”), another leading Brazilian new gen light, to write “Tinnitus,” a psychological drama come sports film.
Like “Obra,” fiction feature “Tinnitus” is set up at Zita Carvalhosa’s Superfilmes (“Alice’s House”), with Graziosi set to direct. With “Obra” marking out Graziosi as a tlent to track from Brazil, Graziozi, who will be interviewed Nov. 5 at the 25th Stockholm Fest, is also advancing on a passion project, “Casa,” a film he says he just has to make.
Now with a good-draft screenplay, “Tinnitus” turns on a 30-year-old high-board diver who suffered a grave accident making a wrong water entry from a 10-meters board. This affects her confidence and leaves her with tinnitus, affecting her sense of balance, forcing her into retirement. Five years later, already much older than competitors, she determines to return to competition for the Rio Olympic Games. But she still suffers from terrible buzzing in her ears. Picking up on themes and styles in both 2008 short “Saltos,” which won Best Ibero-American Film at Mar del Plata, and “Obra,” “Tinnitus” is a portrait of a character’s response to stress, the pressure, including of big city life, and to fear.
“Tinnitus is a kind of monster that can grow inside you, a response to fear” Graziosi said in Rio, just before the bow of “Obra,” where the protagonist suffers crippling back pains.
The movie looks likely to tap into Graziosi’s extreme precision, front-and-center “Obra,” in the portrayal of forms, delineation of space, in-frame framing, pictorial design, and characters’ near balletic movement. In “Saltos,” a static camera captures divers entering and exiting frame, as they jump to gain height before diving.
Graziosi said in Rio that he normally designs scenes before writing a film, then redraws adapting to shoot locales, “in order to adapt to how the actors interact with space. In ‘Obra,’ I was trying to create a dialogue between the actors and space, one of the reasons that we shoot in Scope.”
Graziosi’s great-grandparents, both more than 100-years-old, portrayed in shorts “Saba,” which premiered at Cannes, and “Phiro,” equally inspire “Casa,” Graziosi said. They live in the last house in their Sao Paulo neighborhood and refuse to sell.
“All around them, all the houses are being demolished. They are trying to resist, they are risking their lives. We see small details of their lives. There is a lot of heart in it, and a portrait of the different layers of life in Sao Paulo.” Graziosi commented.
He added: “It may seem strange to talk about resistance in this context. You can resist regimes, injustice, but you can’t resist in the city of Sao Paolo, only live in it. Living in a city that doesn’t want to look at you.”
“Casa” has yet to be written, “but it’s a film I feel I have to make,” Graziosi said.
First seen at the Boutique Cinema do Brazil, the noir B/W mystery “Obra” turns on an architect’s growing qualms as construction on his latest work unearths human bones, part of an underground cemetery maybe linked to his family, which was close to Brazil’s military dictatorship.
Produced by Zita Carvalhosa’s Superfilmes, “Obra” stars Irandhir Santos (“Elite Squad 2,” “Neighboring Sounds”) and Lola Peploe (“The Queen,” “The Other Man”), niece of Clare Peploe, who co-wrote Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Zabriskie Point.” “Obra” owes a debt to Antonioni in his use of dead time to express characters’ feeling, said Graziosi.
The film portrays a Sao Paulo, a potential ghost city of the future, that seems willfully blind not only to its past but its future, building a “modern” style of architecture, so a style of life, which has been condemned for decades in the U.S.
Graziosi said: “We seem to have the memory of fish. We ignore the dark moments of our history, pretend that everything is O.K. But it is hard to build something for the future if you ignore the past.”
Graziozi spent four months working on the sound of “Obra,” to create a kind of “emotional ambience,” he said. “Sound will be essential on ‘Tinnitus,’” he said.