She is “very happy” with her premiere in Rotterdam. Brazilian director Marina Meliande (1980) tells us how she started filming the citizens of Rio de Janeiro in a post-apocalyptic landscape, fighting the 2016 Olympic Games.
“I didn’t feel at home anymore. I wasn’t feeling part of the city”, she recalls. A few years ago, Rio de Janeiro was heading towards a gigantic sports event, the 2016 Olympic Games. There were serious worries about the process. People were losing their homes. It drew her attention. Meliande: “I wanted to make something poetic out of all this.”
SultryMarina Meliande IFFR 2018 94′
Rio de Janeiro, 2016: the city simmers in anticipation of the Olympic Games. Lawyer Ana (32) defends the interests of residents of homes to be replaced by stadiums, roads and luxury hotels. Is the heat affecting her perception or is the struggle becoming visible on her skin? Beautiful, intriguing, stifling debut.
She started researching and discovered a specific community. “The first day I was there, I was fascinated by the post-apocalyptic landscape. Houses were destroyed, no one could ever come back to occupy them anymore. There was a lot of garbage, some people continued to live there.”
A lot of inhabitants had already negotiated to move. Some families kept resisting. Especially women were fighting against daily problems such as no electricity and cut telephone cables. Everything was destroyed around the house. The mayor of Rio de Janeiro was making it very difficult to stay.
“People were so lovely, despite their rage. They shared their stories, they made a political case. In the end they got what they wanted. They are still there. They got new houses, built for them after a very, very difficult negotiation. They had the right to stay.”
“Politicians were not interested in what people were going through.” – Marina Meliande
When she met Sandra, one of the militant community leaders, Meliande found out she used to be an actress. So she wrote a role for her. “I explained to her that this was fiction. This film became part of her political process of resistance.”
“When we started rehearsing in the main house, it could be destroyed anytime. The police could arrive any minute. Sandra told me: ‘If you want to film, shoot now!’ When we arrived the next day, the police was there. I shot.”
“I filmed the community members taking their belongings out of the house. Then bulldozers destroyed the house. It was real. This was a very sad day, but it was also very energetic. We shot everything. The images are very strong.”
It was a very violent period, says Meliande. “Politicians were not interested in what people were going through. There weren’t any public consultations. The poor community lived right in front of the Olympic park. The city of Rio didn’t want them in the area. They were very worried about their image.”
Photo in header: Interview: Sophie van Leeuwen & Pieter-Bas van Wiechen