YIDFF 2005 International Competition
An Interview with Maria Augusta Ramos (Director)

I’d Like the Audience to Be Able to Draw Their Own Conclusionss

Q: It seems that you have screened this work at a lot of different film festivals, but are the audience responses different in each country?

MAR: This film was also released in Brazil, where the language and content communicate very directly to the audience, so in that respect the audience reaction was indeed different. But in all countries it was similar in the sense that the film was received well.

Q: From research on the courts, why did you decide to film prisons?

MAR: Because I became intrigued with the drama of the people involved as I looked at the individual cases. Courts in Brazil are a central location where you can glimpse the reality of people’s lives through the their circumstances and the way they relate to each other.

Q: How did you select the people who appear in the film?

MAR: The courts have very strict regulations about filming, and I needed to get permission from each and every person whose face appears in the film. For that reason, first I selected the two judges who cooperated with the filming. Then I looked into the judges’ cases, and I found the other characters as I explored the cases that were interesting. I didn’t select the people from the very start. Instead, as the filming progressed I got to know them better and ascertained their characters, and along the way I made choices. The male judge who appears in the beginning was extremely cooperative. Eduardo is the second judge, who has a wife and child, and he is an extremely upright person. I was interested in his mother as well, so I went and filmed his family. After deciding on the three main characters, the filming and editing took six months.

Q: I felt like you had the same sense of distance vis-a-vis both the judges and the defendants, but do you always film with this sense of distance?

MAR: I wasn’t intending to take a neutral position between the judges and defendants. I wanted to avoid taking sides and manipulating the audience’s feelings. I wanted audiences to be able to draw their own conclusions as to whether this reality is good or bad, whether the defendant is innocent or guilty. But of course, no film is completely neutral. This is a work about my own reality in the city of Rio, because I selected the people who appear in the film and edited the scenes. So, I always kept a distance from the people I was filming. In particular, this work is about passing sentence, and I took care because I was dealing with people’s feelings before and after the judgment. I wanted to avoid filming stereotypes about judges and young people who commit crimes. I treated both the judges and defendants as individuals. Also, the poverty shown in the film is something I didn’t film intentionally, but rather it is a reality that appeared as a consequence. Almost 80% of the people in prison are young males, like the people who appear in the film. I think in the background lies the reality that ultimately Brazil’s law enforcement system further reproduces poverty and authority.

(Compiled by Sato Kumiko)

Interviewers: Sato Kumiko, Nakajima Asami / Interpreter: Saito Shinko
Photography: Murayama Hideaki / Video: Takahashi Miyuki / 2005-10-10