Luis Campos’ Portuguese label Matiné has boarded “Mother of Gold,” the sophomore feature from Brazilian director Madiano Marcheti, which was selected for the Rotterdam Film Festival’s CineMart co-production market.
Set in a rural town in a remote corner of the Amazon rainforest, the film tells the story of a troubled woman trying to overcome her past and reconnect with her estranged son, who was kicked out of the house when his father refused to accept his sexuality.
After a group of prospectors invades the neighboring hillside in search of gold, the woman starts to have mysterious dreams. As the visions intensify, she slowly comes to realize that the hill itself appears to be calling her.
Speaking to Variety ahead of CineMart, Marcheti described “Mother of Gold” as a deeply personal film inspired by the difficult process of coming out to his family, as well as the connection he has to a region that has changed dramatically over the course of his lifetime.
“It’s very much attached to my memories of my childhood, and my relationship with that particular place while growing up,” he said. “My memories of going through the woods, visiting the rivers with my siblings, our relationship with nature, and how this has transformed over the years with the advance of the so-called development in the form of agribusiness activity, illegal gold mining, and the like.”
Marcheti’s feature debut “Madalena,” which bowed in Rotterdam’s Tiger Competition last year, centered on the death of a trans woman in a rural community. The director said he sees a through-line connecting the two films.
“Both ‘Madalena’ and ‘Mother of Gold’ express my desire to reflect on our relationship with nature, and to raise questions around this hierarchization between humans and non-humans,” he said. “My desire is to showcase what this region was before and what it is now, and also to reflect on what we lost, or are in the process of losing, and in which ways we can rethink our relationship with this space in a way which we can [preserve it] for the future.”
“Mother of Gold” is produced by Daniel Pech for Multiverso Produções and co-produced by Terceira Margem and Campos’ Matiné. Vitrine Filmes has also come on board as the film’s Brazilian distributor.
“When I read ‘Mother of Gold,’ I confirmed my impression that [Marcheti] is an emerging filmmaker with his own language and a strong voice, and as a producer my focus is on filmmakers of my generation, who are in their first or second feature,” said Pech.
The São Paulo-based producer noted that Marcheti hails from “one of the most conservative and transphobic regions of our country, where financial interests and environmental issues are frequently clashing.”
He continued: “This region played a key role in Brazil’s recent shift to the extreme right, but at the same time, it’s the least-represented region in Brazilian films. We don’t have many filmmakers who understand this part of our country. Madiano is the right person to tell this story. Not only because he knows these issues very well, also for the sensitivity in his gaze and his artistic talent.”
Campos, who described “Mother of Gold” as “an exquisite gold-mining thriller,” has been following the film’s progress since serving on the jury that granted it the main award at the Brasil CineMundi co-production market in 2020.
“When Daniel Pech from Multiverso came on board as lead producer, with whom I have shared creative collaborations in the past, I knew all pieces were aligned to embrace this journey as co-producer and bring my best efforts to help accomplish Madiano’s distinguished creative voice,” said Campos. “Matiné was recently launched to hone selected international talents and Madiano is a clear fit to the core nature of the company.”
With a second draft of the script completed, Marcheti said “Mother of Gold” unfolds “like a twisted fable, inspired by a Brazilian myth that lends its name to the film.” Much as his debut drew on supernatural themes, the director will incorporate elements of magical realism to reflect what he sees as the surreal state of his country today.
“In Brazil we are living a moment of extreme polarization in which there is a significant part of society that is informed by fake news, as if there was a parallel reality,” he said. “While I was filming ‘Madalena’ [during Brazil’s 2018 elections], I started observing this state of mind and this social fever, and I thought of exploring this oneiric and dreamlike atmosphere. Because I wanted to film things that may seem supernatural, but that actually do take place in a very concrete reality.
“In a pragmatic way, what I wish to do in this film from an aesthetic point of view is to blur the borders between reality and dreams in these oneiric sequences,” he continued. “I want the audience to feel like they are immersed in a dream.”
The Rotterdam Film Festival’s CineMart co-production market takes place online from Jan. 30-Feb. 2.