The Way He Looks (Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho, in the original Portuguese), directed by Daniel Ribeiro, was selected by Brazil’s Ministry of Culture to fight for the spot as the best foreign-language movie at the 2015 Oscars, minister Marta Suplicy announced. The picture was chosen among 17 other national features.
The plot centers on Leonardo, a blind teenager who struggles to cope with both his disability and an overprotective mother. Unexpectedly, however, along comes Gabriel, a new student in Leonardo’s class, who arouses in the protagonist feelings previously unknown to him.
Suplicy regards as positive the topic addressed in the film. “The movie is universal inasmuch as it depicts the feeling harbored by a teenager who’s surprised to discover himself sexually.
“This feeling is handled smoothly, which is not very often seen when it comes to homosexuality. It focuses on an age group in which it is rather difficult to address the topic in a sophisticated way, without falling into a cliché.”
The Academy will disclose in January the name of the foreign features to compete for the award. The Way He Looks premieres in the US on November 7.
Producer Diana Almeida also found it positive that the topic was taken to movie theaters overseas.
“I hope the movie is watched by a large number of people. I think the announcement made today is by itself arousing a lot of curiosity. This is very positive.”
No one mounted the steps to the stage of the 47th Brazilian Film Festival of Brasília as often as Adirley Queirós, director of Branco Sai, Preto Fica (“White Man Leaves, Black Man Stays”). In addition to winning the night’s most coveted award – the panel’s choice for Best Film – , the picture won ten other prizes, including Marquim do Tropa’s, for Best Actor, and the TV Brasil Award, from the Brazil Communication Company, EBC.
Branco Sai, Preto Fica is a story about victims of social neglect that has as its backdrop a case of police aggression in the impoverished Ceilândia, one of the so-called satellite cities near Brasília. Not only does the picture combine elements taken from genres like documentary and science-fiction, it reveals the increasingly cruel forms of inequality. The harsh social criticism has captivated viewers and critics alike.
A Ceilândia resident himself, Queirós has directed six films in the city. “What gives me the motivation to make films is working in the space where I live – with friends, and people from the area.” In his view, it is important to address social issues that the country has been facing for decades.
“We mustn’t deny that Brazil is a racist, territorialist, homophobic country. The film deals with this, and I think it will always deal with these issues. There’s no change in the country in this regard. It’s a very serious problem we must put into films.”
Surrounded by microphones and reporters, the director took the opportunity to criticize the lack of incentives for culture in peripheral areas. While talking about the obstacles in the development of culture in neighborhoods like his own, he expressed happiness for having taken part in the festival and won the award.
“Ceilândia is a city with 600 thousand inhabitants, and doesn’t have a single cinema room. There are no movie theaters in the peripheral neighborhoods. How can there be an audience if there’s not a single cinema room? This is an urgent problem we need to tackle.
“We’re unable to render the national film-making industry more pungent because the film doesn’t even make it to the airing. Festivals are wonderful, but they only make sense if questions are posed. So we have to think about public policies for the industry, which, to my mind, come down to building public cinema rooms,” the director argued.
Actor Marquim do Tropa felt surprised by the public’s reception. “It’s usually very hard to reach people’s minds with a topic of social criticism.” Next, he rejoiced at being handed the Candango Trophy for Best Actor.
“Getting here and carrying off such a large number of awards is a surprise, because, next to so many good actors, I managed to stand out with my debut as a protagonist. And making the film was a bit difficult to me. I had to put on eight kilos, learn how to smoke, and get an afro hairstyle, when I was actually bald.”
Selected as the best supporting actress in a feature film, Élida Silpe, from Ela Volta na Quinta (“She’s Coming Back on Thursday”), also expressed surprise.
“I’m not even an actress!” she exclaimed, after receiving the Candango Trophy. The recipient of the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Feature Film was Renato Tavares, from the same picture.
The Best Actress award went to Dandara de Morais, from Ventos de Agosto (“Winds of August”). The popular jury’s choice was Luísa Caetano’s short film Crônicas de uma Cidade Inventada (“Chronicles of a Made-Up City”).
Marcelo Pedrosa, from Brasil S/A (“Brazil S.A.”), carried off the award for Best Feature Film Direction. The short film regarded as best by the official panel was Sem Coração (“Heartless”), by Nara Normande and Tião.
Before the announcement of the last award – for best film – , representatives from the six movies in the competition read a letter opposing the difference between the prizes for Best Film – [$100 thousand] – , and the others, ranging from [$4 to $12 thousand].
Thus, the movie-makers decided that the winner would share the amount divided into six equal parts among the other competitors in the category.
“The atmosphere of competitiveness doesn’t add anything to the festival. When this atmosphere is created, the most important thing – the relationship between people, movie-makers, teams – is undermined. If there’s enough money for the prizes, let the airings be paid for, both for feature films and short films, and the [12,000- and 16,000-dollar] awards be given for best film,” said Queirós, the ceremony’s greatest award-winner.