Music changed the life of Maria de Medeiros. classical music taught by his father; But above all, the Brazilian music he discovered in his youth opened his eyes as an artist. The politicized and loyal face he always displayed. His career as an actor led him to work with top European directors and even flirted with Hollywood productions. In Spain too, he was one of those faces who gave our productions a shine from time to time. His presence in the blockbuster that changed commercial cinema called Airbag is unforgettable.
But Medeiros’ career also took shape as a director, a job in which he demonstrated his obsession with the freedom struggle, first in his feature debut in Capitanes de abril, an ambitious film about the Carnation Revolution. Then with his work in a documentary, and now with his new film, Aos Nossos Filhos (Our Children), an adaptation of a play that is an X-ray of Bolsonaro’s Brazil through his mother (a victim of the military dictatorship) and the relationship. A daughter trying to get pregnant with her boyfriend through artificial insemination. The film, which was presented at last week’s Madrid Women’s Film Festival and has now been seen at the Gihon Film Festival, where it received a special award from the James Gray Armageddon Time competition.
Will these awards make you think about the career of an actor or director?
He respects me a lot and motivates me, but I get more encouragement. I see that you remember my work and that they offer me this window to also let you know what I’m doing, about my recent work. So I see it more as a promise for the future.
And what does the future hold for Maria de Medeiros?
Well, it’s a bit like the past, that is, you have to keep fighting. A fight for love, projects that always have quite independent lines. That’s why the existence of such festivals seems so important to me, which is a 60-year festival that gives birth to independent production.
Do you regret anything in your career?
Yes, of course, but they are for learning. I always try not to repeat the same mistakes, but I know that I will make others.
You said that you have to do small projects, that you have to fight for them, did you have to fight a lot as a director and an actor to get these films up?
Yes, because sometimes very fragile, very vulnerable projects come to me and I do everything to make them happen. Obviously, when you’re a director, the struggle is much greater because there are years of your existence involved. In fact, I think making a film is a lot like having a baby, albeit a much longer pregnancy.
He will also present his new film as a director, Our Children, a coming-of-age film dealing with political issues, a cinema that is currently very difficult and almost in danger.
Definitely. It’s a film made with very, very little means, but at the same time it’s made thanks to the cultural politics that existed at the time we started shooting it in Brazil, which was great because effectively years have passed. Lula and Dilma were very good for the whole Brazilian society and culture in particular. In those years, I was fascinated by Brazil because I went there and saw that young people had the opportunity to carry out their artistic projects more easily than in Europe. People created their companies, presented projects, there were very good protection laws… So we took advantage of that to start the project, but at the same time we were affected by what happened later in Brazil, a very big regression. The relation to all that is cultural and to many other things, obviously.
In fact, the climate that returns with Bolsonaro’s victory is in the film. I don’t know if they brought that into this adaptation or the state of mind that permeates the film.
It was something that I did in a very premeditated way, because what I already liked about Laura Castro’s performance is that it seemed like something very close to reality, very clear, that she spoke about something that she knew very well, because in fact, she had three He has a child with Marta, his second wife. He talked about very specific, everyday problems, about what it means to be a homoparent, and I wanted to keep that in the film and make it a film that reflected what was already perceived in Brazil. In the end, we did a kind of x-ray of this very strong darkness of Brazilian society, and the script was filled with much more disturbing scenes, showing what it meant to imprison and torture women during the military dictatorship. The darker and more poignant aspect and the general menace that it was was echoed in the film.
Interestingly, as we see the film now, just after Lula’s victory, he seems to have continued his dialogue with Brazil’s political moment. How did you experience these elections, are you afraid that Bolsonaro will not allow a change of government?
It is true that there is some fear, but this victory, although it is a very narrow victory, is a huge victory against a highly organized and highly financed enemy. A very, very big machine of lies. So even by a hair’s breadth, it’s a huge win. But of course you have to keep fighting a lot.
You have always been closely connected to Brazil as well as music, where did this close relationship come from?
It’s interesting that it was born out of the Carnation Revolution, because my personal history means that I lived all my childhood in Vienna, Austria, because my father is a classical musician, and then I grew up listening only to classical music. I didn’t know who the Beatles or the Rolling Stones were, I was kind of an ET, but it was still great that I grew up loving Mozart, Stravinsky, Mahler, Beethoven… that was my musical reality. But when I came to Portugal, I discovered other musical worlds that I loved. Jazz, of course, but especially Brazilian music, because it was my language, and besides being very rich and beautiful musically, it was very intelligent music, full of incredible lyrics, very subversive, very funny, very, very restless. Music by Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gilles, all the great composers. I think that in the history of Brazil, music has always been a way of thinking about yourself as a country and as a cultural identity. So I can’t separate Brazil and its music.
His previous feature film Capitanes de abril (2000) is about another dictatorship, the Portuguese one.
Yes, but it was a civilian dictatorship whose resolution was a military revolution, which is original in world history. It was the young soldiers who changed the situation of the dictatorship, which was the longest in Europe, lasting 48 years, and civil democracy was established. This is something that I almost never see, but yes, it is obvious that practically all my films, including documentaries, are dialogues about the freedom struggle.
I recently traveled to Lisbon and visited the Museo del Aljube de la Resistencia y la Libertad, which is dedicated to those who fought against the dictatorship. We don’t have anything like that in Spain. I don’t know if you believe that the Carnation Revolution and this way of dealing with historical memory means that the extreme right in Portugal is not as widespread as in other European countries.
I think that this played an important role, the awareness that we gained in society through the revolution, this change and the building of democracy. Or the fact that every year April 25th is celebrated with a great mobilization of society. But fascist ideas are extremely organized all over the world and are trying to gain a foothold in every country, and they come out in practically the same words. It is huge. There you feel they are like a sect. They are a conspiracy theory. They are like flat lands. You feel that they are moving forward with hate speech, which is, in fact, completely empty speech that only creates suffering and a sense of danger. They are there in Portugal too, but they are in the minority compared to other European countries, thank God.
There’s a phrase I really like in the movie “I make a revolution where I can,” is one of the keys to the movie saying that each person should do small revolutionary acts in their daily lives?
Of course, I believe that the private sphere is absolutely political. It is political in the couple. When a relationship of love, authoritarianism or abuse of power is established in a couple, we are already on a completely political level. But this is the case with all environmental issues. In other words, the everyday should be taken as a political position.
Were your decisions as an artist also small revolutions or small political acts?
I think so. What we do already has political significance. The most important thing is to know how to read, because today I think the pleasure of reading is a little lost. And when I say reading, it’s not just reading books, it’s interpreting what’s happening to us. We are fortunate to follow Freud, Lacan, currents of philosophy that have given us fantastic keys to read reality, to interpret what is happening not only to others, but to ourselves. We still have to interpret, because if we interpret, we probably have the opportunity to change or improve something, but if we take everything the way an animal takes a beating, without reading distance, then we become more and more alienated.
Source: El Diario