News from the Locarno Festival

A Storm Hits

As Boas Maneiras – Concorso internazionale

A Storm Hits


© Rui Poças


The darkness, the mystery and the horror that characterize the most recent films by Brazilian filmmakers, such as Trabalhar Cansa (Hard Labor), Sinfonia da Necrópole (Necropolis Symphony), Quando Eu Era Vivo (When I Was Alive), O Silêncio do Céu (The Silence of the Sky), are prolonged here in As Boas Maneiras (Good Manners) the latest film by the Brazilian duo Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas that, as Rojas expressly stated at the press conference, seeks to integrate reality and fantasy by taking the werewolf myth as the engine for the exploration (and perversion) of the conventional codes of fairy tales.

Films such as Snow White or Little Red Riding Hood were invoked by Dutra precisely as Disney archetypes that the film sought to deconstruct and have a breath of transgression, desire and of an irrepressible sexuality. Although, as Juliana Rojas reminded to the curiosity of those present, “the first inspiration we had, actually, was from a dream Marco had. He dreamed a story about two women who live together and raise a special baby. It was the first image which brought us the story.”

From the story of a black and solitary nurse who starts taking care of a white woman’s baby, the film, divided in two parts, carries out a reflection on several parallel realities (and respective imbalances), sometimes more fanciful (the man and the beast), sometimes more politically and socially oriented (racism, inequality, class struggle). And there is also, as Juliana Rojas pointed out, this concrete reflection on the notion of motherhood, in the way in which on the one hand, it affects, as a biological process, the feminine body, and on the other hand, how it implies a process of educating a new human being.

When asked about the influence of the horror movie genre in As Boas Maneiras, Dutra clarified that the film did not want to follow its established conventions, and that they were rather inspired by ancestral children's fairy tales. The director mentioned that one of the reasons that lead to the splitting of the film into two different parts was the reading of the original story of the Sleeping Beauty, in which, in the second part, once the princess gets married and becomes a mother, she starts living in the dread of seeing their babies swallowed by her mother-in-law.

Marjorie Estiano, one of the main actresses, stressed that she has been appreciating for a long time the work of the duo due to their unique place in the contemporary Brazilian cinema, noting also that the mixture of fantasy and realism, the union of rationality with a total subjectivism, is something particularly important in times as cynical and acid as the present. Isabél Zuaa, a Portuguese actress who confessed not to know the work of the Brazilian filmmakers before being invited to act in As Boas Maneiras, pointed out that the film is almost like a musical film d’auteur in which the music tells a complex story made of so many racial, social and affective layers.

Francisco Noronha

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