The most colorful contributor to this year’s Ventana Sur Blood Window Works in Progress section, where it won the Chemistry Award for post-production services, is “Niobe,” a high-octane dark comedy thriller set in a fictitious South American country run by a group of ruthless men.
Pajé Produções Culturais founder Fernando Mamari produces and directs the film, set at a high-profile party where executive John hires a group of luxury call girls as entertainment for a clandestine meeting between several major players in the worlds of business and politics, including a head of state, to work out a plan meant to exploit an indigenous territory for the minerals which can be found there. As things begin to unravel, the future of a country falls into the hands of seven prostitutes not afraid of exploiting an opportunity.
Mixing elements of ‘50s culture, a broad color pallet and a wide range of music, the action takes place in a hypothetical near-dystopian setting that isn’t far off from our own world. The humor and increasingly frequent action partner to keep the film’s tempo upbeat and audiences on the edge of their seats.
Mamari spoke with Variety about the film after its Blood Window WIP screening.
This project looks to be loaded with action and thrills, but your sense of humor shines through in the promotional materials, and I wonder how important it was for you to include elements of humor in the film?
Sometimes, more important than even a film’s main theme is how to approach it. Our choice was to treat deep themes with hints of humor, this brings realistic horror closer to a surreal atmosphere, as Tarantino does in his films.
In a film like this, where exploitation is a main theme, what measures did you take to ensure that everyone on set was comfortable during shooting?
The team’s focus was decisive for the success of the shoot. Collaboration and productivity were two keywords that brought everyone together with a singular purpose: to act collectively creating unprecedented on-screen relationships.
Obviously, this project is very much a product of the times we’re living in, but what made you want to tell this story of empowerment, where those who are often looked over by society at large manage to take complete control, not only of their situation, but potentially their entire government?
There is a need for a reinvention of social modes of organization which is urgent. At the moment, representative democracy reveals its complete bankruptcy.
Aesthetically there is a lot about this film that really pops. Can you talk a bit about the film’s look, especially where color is concerned, and perhaps what role music will play? The music in the teaser seemed to be an important part of establishing the film’s atmosphere.
The atmosphere is that of a fictitious country presented by colors and music which suggest the climate of the personal and institutional relations that come together in this democracy [at the part]. As we all know, friction generates a lot of heat.
The location of your narrative seems key to the events which unfold. Where did you film, and what preparations did you take to create the setting where your story unravels?
The location is a very famous castle in Santa Teresa, an iconic neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, which served as John’s house. The film tells the story of a meeting that took place in this place between different representatives of institutions from a fictional country. With the exception of a few takes on the street, everything was shot within a single location. The art and costume departments did a beautiful job which can be especially appreciated in the girls’ dresses, which are wearable works of art.