MADRID – Brazilian film director David Schurmann is shooting “Little Secret,” inspired by the life of his adopted sister Kat Schurmann, written by Marcos Bernstein, scribe of Walter Salles’ Oscar-nominated “Central Station,” and one of the most ambitious and unusual fiction films to have moved this year into production in Brazil.
Brazilians Julia Lemmertz (“My Name Ain’t Johnny,” “From Beginning To End”), Marcello Antony (“As Brasileiras”) and Maria Flor (“Xingu”) co-star with Erroll Shand (“The Z-Nail Gang”) and Fionnula Flanagan (“Yes,” “Four Brothers”).
Produced by Joao Roni at Brazil’s Ocean Films, in a sign of its production ambitions, “Little Secret” has signed up German art director Brigitte Broch, a production designer on “Amores perros,” “21 Grams,” “Babel” and “Moulin Rouge!” – for which she won an Academy Award.
Peru’s Inti Briones, a Variety Cinematographer to Watch who lensed Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize winner “To Kill a Man” and won an Intl. Film Critics Feodora Award at 2013’s Venice Festival for his cinematography on “The Quispe Girls,” serves as d.p.; Brazilian Severo Lazardo Jr., whose credits include movie/mini-series “O Tempo e o Vento,” is “Little Secret’s” costume designer.
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A New Zealand Film and Television School alum whose varied credits include transmedia suspense horror mockumentary “Missing” and docu “U-513 Lonely Wolf,” Schurmann is famed in Brazil as part of the first Brazilian family to sail round the world, accompanied by parents Vilfredo and Heloisa Schurmann, brothers Pierre and Wilhelm and, on a second circumnavigation, the Magalhaes Global Adventure, five year-old Kat.
“Little Secret” certainly acknowledges the Schurmanns’ yatching background. But its singularity, which also givesthe film its emotional sweep, is to come at the life of Kat Schurmann, who died of AIDs at the age of 13, in a three-part movie narrating the life journeys and destinies of people who loved her.
Father Robert, a New Zealander who having had a sheltered upbringing, is swept off his feet in the Amazon by a beautiful local girl who suffers a tragic accident; Kat herself, adopted by the Schurmanns and a 12 year-old rebel, demands to know the identity of the illness she was born with; a British woman living in New Zealand, struggles with alcoholism, her husband and resentment at her son’s abandonment of her, determines to reclaim her grand-daughter, Kat.
“Whenever I tell people about Kat’s life story, people say it’s so incredible, it should be a movie. I always thought it would be more interesting to be told in a non-linear fashion, rather than like a conventional biopic,” said Schurmann.
Set in Belem, capital of the Amazon region Para state, Florianópolis in Southern Brazil, and New Zealand, the three stories appear for much of the film to be running parallel to one another. It’s only from about half way through that you begin to realize there’s a time difference, 10-12 years at least, and then see how the stories come together.”
“Little Secret’s” varying parts – a love story, a coming of age tale, an adult drama – all appear tainted by tragic fate. But, said Schurmann: “We are going to show how hope, dreams and destiny can unite people from different parts of the world.”
Roni added: “’Little Secret’ tells stories which can cross fronteirs, showing how people separated by destiny, prejudice and tragedy can unite through friendship, understanding and love. It’s a surprising, inspiring film that can change how people think about the world.”
Having completed its shoot in Para and Florianopolis shoot, “Little Secret” will lens in New Zealand in February and be ready for delivery second half 2015. The is co-financed via the Santa Catarina and Pará regional governments, equity investors, product placement, and a minimum guarantee, Roni said. It aims to tap gap finance from Brazil’s powerful Sectorial Audiovisual Fund (FSA).