The director of O caminho das nuvens Vicente Amorim is delighted. And it's no wonder: officially announced at the Cannes Festival, the leading actor in his first international film, Good, is the talented and handsome American actor Viggo Mortensen no less. 'He has a sweet masculinity and an unusual political consciousness,' he praises. In an interview to EGO, the director explains why Good, which will be shot between March and April of next year in Berlin and should be finished by the end of 2007, is a special film, and talks, of course, about cinema.
How were you offered to direct Good?
The offer came in November of last year. Miriam Segal (chairwoman of Potemkin's Village, the company that is producing the film together with the Brazilian [company] Jodaf Mixer) didn't want a European director. I think that she was looking for a less distorted and guilty view of the history. She wanted someone who could open the horizons, who transformed the universal history. Since she had already seen O caminho das nuvens and liked it, she opted for a Latin director.
What are your expectations regarding the project?
I'm delighted. We already had a good script and I was allowed to put my own colours to the story. We decided to shoot at the beginning of next year to wait for Viggo, who was already committed to other projects until the end of this year. I loved having chosen him, because I liked his performance in A History of Violence very much. He has a sweet masculinity and an unusual political consciousness, especially among Americans. Viggo didn't need any explanation, for example, about the contemporary political relevance of Good and he was very interested in the dramatic potential of the character.
Do you think that the category of 'Latin director' exists?
When I say 'Latin director' I mean Latin American. It has become fashionable, in the best sense of the word, to steal Latin American directors. It's a path opened by Fernando Meirelles and Walter Salles to direct outside Brazil. But I find it quite difficult that people talk of a 'Latin American school' of cinema. That would be quite a wrong generalization. Even here in Brazil our films are varied. It's an effervescence not seen in years. But the production is only good because the films are very different.
What would be the common ground?
I think we are concerned about social topics, but with a less hard and dogmatic view. Our way of tackling those questions is more original. We are not more compassionate, paternalistic or didactic. And that is the differentiation I want to stamp in Good: to show characters that make stories work and not try to prove theories through John (Viggo Mortensen's character).
Was that, more or less, what you did in O caminho das nuvens (in which a poor, north-eastern family try to get to Sao Paulo by bicycle)?
Yes. Every film is political, of course. What is more, the film that says it is not political is the most political of them all. What I always try to create - and I want to do it again in Good - is an empathy between the audience and the characters, so that, through that microcosmos, it's possible to see that we are all part of the system.
And you will also apply that view in Good?
The best thing about Good is you face history from the character's point of view. If I get to do justice to the script - which is excellent, by the way - I want that whoever is watching (the film) can see it in a contemporary way. I want to show what has happened in Germany at that time is not different from what took place last week in Sao Paulo or from what is happening in Rio. I want to show that the situation is like this because the good people - like me, you or John - don't do anything.
That we are all responsible (for what's happening)?
Exactly. They are the bricks that form the wall of the system. Of course John is an extreme example of that, but we cannot blame only one person for what happened in Germany at that time. I don't know whether you've noticed it already but the films that are about Germany in the 30's are all kind of ash-grey, just the red of the swastika is highlighted. But over there the situation was different. It was a colourful period, with a growing economy and full employment. The German people were passionate about themselves.
Have you studied that period a lot?
It was a big coincidence. When I was offered the chance to direct Good I was already reading about that period for my next film here in Brazil, CoraçÃµes sujos, based on the Fernando Morais novel.