Karim Aïnouz, whose latest film “The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao” plays at the Zurich Film Festival and has been selected to represent Brazil in the international feature film race at the Oscars, talked about political filmmaking and the golden age of Brazilian cinema with Guy Lodge at the Variety Lounge presented by Credit Suisse.
Winner of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard prize, “The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao” is adapted from a novel by Martha Batalha and follows two sisters born in Rio de Janeiro who have been separated for decades by familial shame and each believes the other is living out her dreams. Aïnouz said while his film delved into the condition of women in the 1950’s, “it’s not a feminist film” but rather an “anti-patriarchal film.” He said the movie was a tribute to the courageous generation of women to which his mother belongs.
When he started developing the film in 2015, Aïnouz said he had no idea how much it would resonate in contemporary Brazil. “These issues have become important and relevant to Brazil today,” Aïnouz said. Alluding to Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, who recently halted funding for films with LGBT themes, Aïnouz said it would have been much harder to finance “The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao” today because “a lot of queer subjects are censored.” His said his aim with “The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao” was to make a popular film that can reach a large audience.
Aïnouz said he did a widespread search outside of the soap opera realms and into the theater and cinema worlds to “find the right people for the right role” — which is “90% of the job” as a filmmaker. He said he asked the actresses to do a three-minute fixed shot of them peeling potatoes to find singular faces and bodies.
Up next, Aïnouz is developing a script about a story inspired by his father’s experience during the Algerian war for independence. He said the film will be a sort of “travel diary” tracing back the struggle of Algerians to gain independence, set against a complex political backdrop.
Asked to give a piece of advice to the younger generation of filmmakers, Aïnouz said the most important thing was to be patient but thoughtful. “Be patient, but before you shoot think about what you want to show. Take risks, and be truthful to yourself. Find your voice.”