News from the Locarno Festival

Interview with Licínio Azevedo

Piazza Grande

Licínio Azevedo


© Sabine Cattaneo


Let’s start from the very beginning. When did the idea for Comboio de Sal e Açucar start?

At the end of the war I did a lot of interviews in Mozambique, I got so much good material that I decided to write a novel. Even though all the characters are fictional, they are based on real people. The book is a mix between realism and magic atmospheres.


And when did you start feeling this was a Western?

When I was writing the novel. I got inspired by all the classic Westerns, especially the ones by George Stevens.


You usually work with non-professional actors, but for this movie you also used professionals…

Sure. Melanie de Vales Rafael is a 22-years-old talented actress living in Portugal. She started acting at 14. The funny thing is she stars in a TV series in which she’s a doctor, and in my movie she’s a nurse, so in some way I downgraded her! Matamba Joaquim, Mário Mabjaia and some others are professionals too. Playing soldiers they had to do a lot of military training, while the guys playing the train machinists had to learn how to drive a train…


In Comboio de Sal e Açucar there’s also a magical side, one character is very close to be a sorcerer…

During the war there was a special force composed of 50,000 soldiers, fighting almost naked, without weapons. I got inspired by them to create that character. Yes, we can call him a sorcerer, he can talk with birds and stuff like that. Animism is a very important thing in Mozambique, even today. It belongs to everyday life, not only among army men or soldiers. 


Do you think this movie will be able to help African movie production?

In Mozambique the industry is still weak, we produce a series every year and a feature film every 5/6 years. But we have a lot of talented people, maybe in South Africa where a lot more movies are made every year they could find a way to express it.


Adriano Ercolani
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