Yann Gonzalez, rated as one of France’s most gifted young directors after his heartfelt Giallo homage “Knife + Heart” played in 2018’s Cannes competition, has boarded “Brasília! Brasília!” from Brazil’s Bernardo Zanotta who last year won Locarno’s Pardino d’Argento for best short film with “Heart of Hunger.”
Gonzalez served as president of the Pardino d’Argento award, saw in Zanotta a kindred subversive spirit in an increasingly conformist landscape and when Zanotta sent him an early treatment of Brasília!Brasília!” wanted to form part of the project.
Introduced to the market at Locarno’s Match Me! Forum by André Mielnik, “Brasília Brasília!”, which is another’s feature debut, is being co-developed by Gustavo Beck and Mielnik at their Rio de Janeiro-based If You Hold a Stone and Gonzalez and partner Flavien Giorda at their upcoming French production company.
Written by Zanotta and Larissa Lewandowski, “Brasília!Brasília!” embodies cutting edge fare from Brazil’s youngest generation of filmmakers: It’s genre, but does not turn its back on the contemporary world, and is a hybrid, channeling influences from French auteur Jacques Rivette to soap opera in what by accounts is an invigorating, playful and meaningful mash-up.
Zanotta calls “an allegorical meditation on violence in contemporary Brazil.” He adds that this “plays with cliche and the conventions of theatre and soap opera, while telling the story of a Dutch woman whose holiday journey to Brasília becomes the main connection for a series of supernatural events.”
The film weaves three apparently unconnected plot lines: middle-aged Dutch Ineke’s exploration of Brasília; violent events climaxing in the murder of Vera, a young actress; the staging of a new play, adapting the treatise “Vampyroteuthis Infernalis.”
“The film is a contemporary allegory revolving around the friction between the local and the foreign. A story taking place in an overwhelming period of social- political instability that silently creates an untameable monster” Zanotta said.
“Brasília is haunted by a trauma, it symbolizes a Brazilian taboo, a forgotten part of the country’s history,” he added- alluding to “the colonial project as one of the foundational elements of its identity” and arguing that “contemporary tourism and its vices are one of the problems – perpetuating colonial dynamics.”
Part-spoof, part-political allegory, part-Gothic fable. said Zanotta, “Brasília!Brasília!” will be shot on standard 16mm film, inspired by Jacques Rivette’s movies and “Brazilian directors who (intentionally or not) have placed their characters lives on the foreground of political upheaval and economic recession: José Mojica Marins (‘Coffin Joe’), Glauber Rocha, Rogério Sganzerla and Guilherme de Almeida Prado.”
If You Hold a Stone’s Beck and Mielnik met Zanotta when he served as a very young A.D. on Gustavo Jahn and Melissa Dullius’ “Muito Romantico.” They were highly impressed by “Heart of Hunger,” “a highly intimate film” which absorbs and repels the viewer in the most unanticipated ways.”
Gonzalez’s co-production of “Brasília!Brasília!” is another coup for If You Hold a Stone, which is a rising value on Brazil’s independent scene.
Among past productions, “Antonio One Two Three,” the lyrical feature debut of Leonardo Mouramateus, and a loose adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “White Nights,” took an Impact Cinema Bright Future Award at the Rotterdam Festival’s Bright Future 2017, and will now see a VOD release via Under the Milky Way in over 80 territories by October.
Another first feature, now in post-production “Los Conductos,” from Colombia’s Camilo Restrepo, won the 2018 Mar del Plata Festival’s work in progress.
“Camilo’s film is one of the most anticipated features in arthouse cinema today and it’s a privilege to take part in such a bold and radical project,” said Mielnik.
If You Hold a Stone is also on post on Mouramateus’ second feature, “Life is Two Days,” a sci-fi comedy.
“There’s a lot of interest in exploring genre as a language, as there are audiences interested in watching those experiences,” Mielnik said.
He added: “What we see now is a renaissance of the genre film, a sort of arthouse grassroots movement to embrace those cliches and dramatic expediencies in ways that are fresh, bold and entertaining at one and the same time.”