An Interview with Eliza Capai (Director)
Is the Student Movement Just a Big Party with No Intellect?
Q: This film is narrated by Koka, Marcela, and Nayara, three students who are a part of the movement. How did you come to ask them to do this?
EC: I chose Koka because he was always advocating the cause with joy. He kept singing, even in a tense situation when violence was eminent, just as the police were about to barge in. Marcela was introduced to me by someone who first gave me footage from her school. Following her changing hairdos illustrated the history of black women’s hairstyles in Brazil. Marcela takes us to a demonstration where policemen are beating Maria, a black woman. This image strongly testifies to the treatment of black women in Brazil. I chose Nayara because I saw personal growth through her participation in the protest. Pulling the students together, resisting the police, debating with politicians—her capacity truly blossomed.
Q: What kind of changes did they undergo through their activism?
EC: The students showed dramatic transformation through being part of the movement. They found camaraderie among the student movement community and discovered a safe space for themselves to be who they really are. For example, Nayara met a lesbian lover in the community and was able to cultivate the relationship without discrimination. Her change and growth was possible because of this safe community where she could be herself without shame. The student movement became at once a place of politics, engagement, and joy for the participants. People who find themselves in that kind of environment begin to speak up about their dreams and how to make them come true. That is extremely troublesome for those in power, because authoritarians don’t want people at the bottom of society to escape from that status.
Q: Did you know how you wanted to structure the film before you started shooting?
EC: At first I was thinking of observing the student movement from the outside. But as I started filming, I realized that the choice of who represents the movement in the film is a crucial decision, and decided to change the structure. I was also concerned about how to communicate with a young audience through the film. You need to use music and speed up the pace of the conversation if you want contemporary high school kids to watch a film. That’s something I realized during the editing process.
Q: Despite the intensiveness of the protest movement, an extreme right-wing government was born in Brazil. What kind of themes are you thinking of for your next film?
EC: There’s a project that’s been on my mind since 2014. It’s a film about love. I’d film people in different places and ask them what they think love is. I want to interview especially in places where love is lacking—cities in Brazil that are very violent, states where people are being killed because of land right disputes. Love is not only between couples. For example there is love for nature and love for society. Humans have an inherent desire to learn about other people’s cultures and viewpoints, and have the ability to empathize. On the other hand, human beings do kill each other. In my next film, I’m hoping to deal with that dual nature of the human existence.
(Compiled by Itagaki Tomohiro)
Interviewers: Itagaki Tomohiro, Miyamoto Airi / Interpreter: Yamanouchi Etsuko / Translator: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Sugawara Mayu / Video: Sugawara Mayu / 2019-10-15