Sundance Q&A: ‘Mars One’ Director Gabriel Martins Explains Why Brazilian Independent Filmmakers Are ‘Looking Into A Blank Space’ | Characteristics

Brazilian filmmaker Gabriel Martins makes his solo directorial debut at the Sundance World Cinema Dramatic Competition Entrance march one,. The film follows a lower-middle-class black family living on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte as they reconcile their dreams with the recent election of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in late 2018.

The father places his hopes in a football career for his cerebral young son who secretly yearns to study astrophysics, while his wife is beset by a disturbing encounter that shakes her confidence. Meanwhile, Deivinho’s older sister, Eunice, falls in love with a free-spirited woman. As events unfold, family bonds will be tested.

Martins, who attended film school in his hometown of Belo Horizonte and co-directed with Maurilio Martins in the IFFR 2019 selection In the heart of the world, filmed in Belo Horizonte in late 2018 after the project became one of three to benefit from a now-defunct fund for low-budget films supporting underrepresented communities. About 10% of the budget came from Canal Brasil which financed a long post-production which extended until the beginning of 2021 due to the pandemic.

The Day One premiere premieres January 20 at 8:00 p.m. PT and is also part of the Satellite Screens schedule of films airing in person at select US arthouses the weekend of January 28-30. Magnolia Pictures International handles worldwide sales.

Is this story inspired by your life?
There are definitely personal reasons because it’s loosely inspired by stories from my family or the type of place where I grew up with money issues and things like that. It started with an image of a boy looking up at the sky and holding a soccer ball. Maybe it was something to do with Brazil losing [7-1] to Germany in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup in Belo Horizonte. It was a great moment because we also had a lot of political struggles. Brazil have been a huge mess before and since, so it’s about football, politics and dreams. I decided to make this film about what it means for this kid to dream of something so big, something so far away from him.

Did your parents expect you to follow a certain path?
For some time my mother really wanted me to be a footballer. I played a little when I was very young but I didn’t like getting up early to practice. I wanted to be a director since I was six or seven years old… My mother and my father supported me a lot.

Yours was one of three films to benefit from a low-budget fund that disappeared before Bolsonaro was elected. Did you change the script after he was elected president in October 2018?
I started writing it in 2015… I was just going to adapt the film to the winner. Because [Bolsonaro] won any kind of changed. I think the most important thing was Eunice’s reaction to her election. This put his character in a more difficult situation.

What was your state of mind when you shot March One?
We shot in November, December 2018, so this film is like a portrait of how I and I guess a lot of people felt about race, dreams, politics, and disappointment with everything that was happening in Brazil. We elected this openly racist and misogynist right-wing president. People were fighting for basic rights, and then we elect someone who rips it all off. He kicked our sandcastle.

It was all in my head, but I couldn’t make a movie that was kind of a revenge plot against this election because it was fairly elected. Yes, there has been fake news like you had with Trump, but people elected him democratically. So it’s not just a problem with Bolsonaro but as a country – how polarized we are, how and how we don’t have mature discussions about politics. It is also a film about the differences between generations. How will the father behave with the daughter? Will the young man see the world as his father sees it or will he find his own way?

march one

Tell us about your casting
This is Cicero’s first film. [Lucas] who plays Deivinho. He’s a percussionist and I saw him play samba about four years before making the film. Camilla Souza who plays her sister Eunice had a background in performance and this is her first real film role. The parents are played by Carlos Francisco and Rejane Faria and they have done a lot of things but this is the first feature film where they are the protagonists. They both had long acting careers and played a mother and father in a short film I called No which premiered at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs in Cannes in 2017.

The on-screen family is very authentic. Did you rehearse a lot?
Yes, we rehearsed a lot. All four were so open to this experience and have big hearts. They clicked from the first rehearsal; it was more for me. The rehearsal was more for me to see the script through their eyes and make some corrections. I thought Cicero might be embarrassed in front of the camera, but this generation has cameras everywhere and he’s a musician so he’s used to being around old people and a lot of people. So he’s just fine.

You shot in 2018. Why did it take so long to come out?
After filming, I had to take a step back and go away for three months. We started editing in the spring of 2019 and it was difficult to take the rhythm of the film and understand what it was about. At the end of 2019, we almost had the final cut when the pandemic hit. We couldn’t complete it properly and since there was no rush, we slowed down and worked remotely. At the beginning of 2021, the film was ready. We had always talked about Sundance so when the opportunity arose, everything went well.

What happened to arts funding under Bolsonaro?
We are very dependent on state and federal funds to support the arts and one of the first things Bolsonaro did was take the ministry responsible for arts and culture and tear it down and turn it into something next to tourism. After that, we had no more funds, everything was lost in bureaucracy. Brazilian cinema has practically been on hiatus in recent years.

What if you wanted to make a movie like this today?
I would just wait and try to go to Netflix or Amazon and get some private funding. I have no idea what my next feature will be. So far, streamers, especially in Brazil, haven’t shown much interest in highly independent films; they are more attracted to movies that have commercial appeal. As independent filmmakers, we’re just staring into empty space because we’ve run out of funds. It’s a huge problem in Brazilian cinema.

Tell us about your production company Filmes de Plástico
Me, Maurilio Martins and Andre Novais Oliveira started it in 2009. Recently we produced our first feature film, The joy of things, from a director outside the company called Thais Fujinaga. It was created in Rotterdam last year. We want to release films made by people outside the company and we are starting to reach out to streamers.

Did you plan to attend Sundance before they canceled the item in person?
Oh yeah of course. We already had all our tickets purchased and our accommodations booked. And it was kind of a bomb. But yeah, it’s Covid, man. It’s not going anywhere, so we have to deal with it.

About Monty S. Maynard

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