Film Scouts Interviews

"Sixteen-Oh-Sixty" Press Conference
at the 1995 New York Film Festival

by Henri Béhar
QUESTION: How was the film received in Europe?
VINICIUS MAINARDI: It hasn't been shown anywhere, except at the Venice Film Festival.
DIOGO MAINARDI: To be able to finish the movie, we had to pre-sell it to Italy.
VINICIUS MAINARDI: This is its third screening ever.
QUESTION: The approach is very theatrical. Any of you have their roots in theatre?
VINICIUS MAINARDI: No, we come from TV. Soap operas. So we kept reminding our actors, and ourselves: "Don't move arms, don't twist eyebrows". It's very very different. "Theatricality" as you say, was a way for us to escape that onus. Plus I thought it would fit the film. I also have made a lot of commercials, and that's something I had to sidestep. Hence the long scenes, the long takes, not too many cuts. (Pause) It may not be the case today, but at the time, it felt like a great idea. (Laughs)
QUESTION: While people are being shot right and left on screen, the music is strangely upbeat. Was that deliberate?
HILTON RAW: I tried to keep the musical atmosphere as raw as the story that was told. Tried to mix original music and stuff like "Besame Mucho", old standards. Mix styles, too, Brazilian music and clichÈ standards, heavy metal and samba. Using the music as counterpoint to the images.
QUESTION: Your actors?
VINICIUS MAINARDI: I played with typecasting. Maite Proenca is a wonderful TV personality, she has done innumerable soaps, she's extremely popular, so she was the easiest to cast, she got it immediately, she is perfect.
QUESTION: Are the kids amateurs?
VINICIUS MAINARDI: No, they're all professional, soap opera actors.
QUESTION: Was your choice of black and white an aesthetic one?
VINICIUS MAINARDI: In part. And in part financial. Black-and-white is more expensive on prints, but cheaper on mistakes. Also, Brazil is almost carnivalishly colorful. And I wanted the film to be colder, for you to see, hear, and think. Which is why sets are huge, feel a bit detached.
QUESTION: Are [Finnish filmmakers, and brothers] Aki and Mika Kaurismki among the directors that may have influenced you? You seem to share the same brand of bleak, dark humor.
VINICIUS MAINARDI: I'm very familiar with their films but no, they were not particularly present in my mind at the time. My personal favorites? John Houston and Orson Welles--I tried to borrow some of the sets from him. Sorry, Orson.
QUESTION: Was Luis Bunuel's "Viridiana", then, on your mind?
DIOGO MAINARDI: Not really. More likely, Evelyn Waugh, and the way he uses humor to deal with certain things, which is tough, particularly in Brazil. Using humor to break the sentimentality has always been the point of my work.
QUESTION: By "breaking the sentimentality", as you say, don't you deny the characters their humanity?
DIOGO MAINARDI: Sure, but they're not very human, are they? I've no sympathy for them at all.
QUESTION: Would you define "Sixteen-Oh-Sixty" as a satirical comedy on Brazilian slums?
VINICIUS MAINARDI: I hope it goes beyond Brazil. We haven't cornered the world market on poverty.
QUESTION: Is "Sixteen-Oh-Sixty" indicative of the Brazilian film industry today?
DIOGO MAINARDI: A) We don't have a Brazilian cinema any more; B) If we had one, no, it wouldn't be a typical film.
VINICIUS MAINARDI: This may get me into trouble with a lot of people. But, no, we don't have any Brazilian industry. It's based on old values of production and products. It needs shaking up. The money is always in the same hands. This movie was made with our own money. We went to 200 different places, knocked on 200 doors--which is totally humiliating. Nothing. Not even public money. It's time for us to start discussing what it is we want to do with our cinema. Make cheaper films? Sure, who doesn't want to try and do that? But what's the point in investing 2 million dollars in one Brazilian film? Better put the 2 million dollars in four or five films and form people. Craft is important, and that's probably what we lack most.
LUCY BARRETO (a Brazilian foreign-sales person in the audience): Perhaps you're not aware, Mainardi, that since May 1994, the law allows us to produce films by going to the stock market. There's a whole slew of incentives: certificates of investment get you tax credit. And no involvement from the government. It depends on the project.
VINICIUS MAINARDI: I know. But the money is still in the hands of the same people. What you want to say matters less than who you know. You have access to those people, I don't.
QUESTION: How was the picture shot?
DIOGO MAINARDI: We dug into our mother's stocks.
QUESTION: Any censorship?
DIOGO MAINARDI: No censorship at all. From that point of view, Brazil is perfect.

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