Rotterdam-Berlin: FiGa/Br Introduces ‘Where I Grow Old’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Tribeca-backed, Rotterdam competition entry marks fiction feature debut of Brazil’s Marilia Rocha, a Teia co-founder

Where I Grow Old
Courtesy of FiGa/BR

FiGa/Br, the Brazilian operation of Miami-based FiGa Films, will bring on to the market at Rotterdam “A cidade onde envelheco” (Where I Grow Old), the first fiction feature from Brazil’s Marilia Rocha which is backed by both the Tribeca Film Institute and the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund.

The latest movie from Rocha, co-founder of Belo Horizonte’s Teia, one of Brazil’s most prominent regional film collectives, of which she was a member for 10 years, “Where” will world premiere in main competition at Rotterdam on Feb. 4 – where it is one of just eight contenders – then segue to a screening at Berlin’s European Film Market.

Informed by the actors’ own life experiences – Francisca Manuel, who plays one of the co-leads, moved to Brazil between 2011-12, “Where I Grow Old” turns on the halting bonding between two Portuguese women, Francisca, who has moved to Brazil’s Belo Horizonte a while back, and the far more effervescent Teresa, an acquaintance from her life back in Portugal, who turns up, also looking to create a new life in Brazil.

Francisca is near turning 30. Teresa’s arrival makes Francisca homesick and sharpens her sense that she must make a decision: Where does she really want to carve out a life for herself? Should she stay or should she go?

Francisca Manuel is a Lisbon-based director and film-video co-worker currently studying a master’s degree at Lisbon U. Elizabete Francisca , who plays Teresa, works as a artistic collaborator, dancer and performer with Vera Mantero, Loic Touze and Mark Tompkins. Her own creations have been staged in France, Belgium and Austria.

A partner at Anavilhana, along with producer Luana Melgaço and fellow director Clarissa Campolina , co-helmer of “Swirl,” Rocha is best known as an award-winning documentary filmmaker, helming 2005’s “Aboio,” 2008’s “Acacio” and 2009’s “A falta que me faz.” Still young, she has already been the subject of a retrospective at Switzerland’s Visions du Reel, one of Europe’s best-known docu fests.

In “Where I Go Old,” she brings a documentary filmmaker’s instincts – the use of non-pro actors, medium shots which revels daily scenes on the streets of Belo Horizonte, discovering it for world audiences, a sense of going with the flow of scenes – with a fiction film which, nevertheless, addresses large subjects: “Inverse” immigration of Europe’s new poor to Latin America; the Brazil/Portugal culture clash; the challenge of taking large decisions about life when the world and relationships seem so much in flux. “The film is all staged by non-actors who mix their own life experiences with those lived by the characters they play. It is a co-operative creation process, which began in research and was intensified by improvisation during the shoot, mixing real people and experiences to a fictional narrative thread,” Rocha has noted.

She went in: “What is at stake is the tension between a foreign and a local viewing about Brazil. The personal dramas of Teresa and Francisca end up translating into a larger movement that embraces the historical and symbolic relations between Brazil and Portugal.”

“Where I Grow Old” is co-produced by Anavilhana’s Melgaco, who produced “Swirl” and will attend the 2016 Berlinale talents, and Joao Matos at Lisbon’s Terratreme.

Run by Sandro Fiorin and Alex Garcia, FiGa Films’ industry role on “Where” went far further than just sales and representation with FiGa connecting the producers and sourcing a Bloomberg Fellowship from the Tribeca Film Institute as well as Berlinale World Cinema Fund support.

“Where I Grow Old” screened in rough cut at France’s 2015 Toulouse CineLatino Fest Films in Progress.

Emilio Mayorga contributed to this report