Interviews #1 – Frederico Machado

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Frederico Machado (São Luis, 1972), film critic, screenwriter, producer and director. In 2006 he founded Lume Filmes production company then become distribution service; he’s also the director of Lume International Film Festival. After directing various short movies, in 2013 he writes and directs his first feature film ‘The Exercise of Chaos’, one of the most remarkable first-time film ever as well as first part of his Dante Trinity Trilogy continued a year after with ‘The Road of Milk’, a work equally astonishing but more experimental that maintains the stylistic fingerprint of the author. The last part of the trilogy has been announced but is still in working: ‘The Fisherman’.


Cinepaxy: Well, first off we would like to thank you for accepting this interview. Let’s start with a general question: how is born your approach to the cinematic art? Who or what have especially imparted you this passion? 

Frederico Machado: I thank you for your interest. I come from a family of artists, my parents were both writers. My father was an alcoholic man and my mother used to work all the day. Since I was 8/9 years old, I used to watch Bergman, De Sica, Ozu, I didn’t have brothers so I have always been lonely and cinema was such an escape from the outside world. More, my neighbour was a member of the Cineclub in Rio Estação Botafogo. I was born in São Luis, a little village, and I got much lucky for having the possibility of study in Rio de Janeiro when I was a child. At the cinema there was just author movies, so I used to spend a lot of time watching films. I think that my passion is the result of my difficulties about socializing.

CP: As well as you’re a director, you’re also a film producer and president of the Lume Filmes, it’s very honorable the promotion of underground brazilian cinema. So how was your career path? What did you encourage to promote a movie instead of another one? You have some yardstick or you promote simply the movies you liked?

FM: When I was 17/18 I founded an amateur independent magazine to talk about cinema, so I knew many UFF (Fluminense Federal University) directors and I started writing some short scripts for  them. In 1996 I was awarded for best screenplay from MINC (Ministry of Culture) and I shot my first short film, then released in São Luis. All my life have been involved with movies, my CV can prove it. Once shooted my first short, I create a cineclub, than a film festival, than a videoclub and more after a film production and a distribution company. I have always been independent and lonely in my work, my city didn’t have a real tradition of cinema.

CP: Now let’s talk about your “Dante Trinity Trilogy”. How did it come to form? In which way have you adapted this trilogy to modernity? How have you transferred old concepts into today’s world?

FM: The trilogy is based on my father’s poetics. There are many topics covered: sex, religion, existentialism… I tried to express through images both depth and density inside his words. Dantesque trilogy is related in the sense that it has three books with very similar themes, the titles themselves are from it: ‘The Exercise of Chaos’, ‘The Road of Milk’ and ‘The Fisherman’.

The Exercise of Chaos (2013)

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CP: Can you tell us something more about your father’s poetry? 

FM: My father is a humble man and his art is so intense and strong. I tried to bring to light this man and this artist to the whole world, but at the same time translate his concepts into nowadays contest. About your previous question, I think to have adapted his books according to my personal point of view.

CP: Of course a personal view so speaking of the elaboration of this personality which have been the directors who have inspired you the most? Have you pulled anything from any fellow countryman such as Glauber Rocha or Julio Bressane? Is there any artist you admire in particular?

FM: I’m glad to answer your question. Well, my passions: regarding my favourite directors it would be too hard to name them all, but I’ll try to summarize my opinion. In Cinema history there are doubtless many essential names. For the composition of the image I’ll mention Yasujiro Ozu, who’d been my main inspiration; for the mise-en-scène and for a decent, conscious Cinema, Robert Bresson; for the frame and construction, Carl Theodor Dreyer; for deepness and psychological stratified, Ingmar Bergman; freedom and ingenuity, Jean-Luc Godard; sensibility, Francois Truffaut; for odness, beauty and aesthetics, Sergej Paradjanov. For having created a symbolic language and for his greatness in telling through images, Andrej Tarkovskij, but they are really too many… I appreciate a lot Free Cinema movement of the sixties, experimental and revolutionary Cinema of the seventies, the iranian one of the nineties, italian Neorealism of the forties, but most of all I love to discover new talents, movies that can show new sights on Cinema itself and new introspections inside this Art. From brazilian Cinema I took the powerful expressions of Glauber Rocha and Nelson Pereira Dos Santos in movies like ‘Rio 40 Graus’ and ‘Vidas Secas’. I try to put into practice and internalize all these all these teaching with my work not only as director but also as president of Lume Filmes so I just promote movies I appreciate. I never think about financial gain or film potential success.

CP: Same principle verifiable in ‘The Exercise of Chaos’, it’s quite evident indeed it’s indipendent nature. There is a sort of uncommon expressive freedom in the representation of a maddeningly chaotic universe, nearly caricatural, metaphoric. What conclusions would you take observing by spectator your movies?

FM: That the world is a lonely place. Disintegration, sadness, difficulty. I hope to be able to find the light through today’s chaos, I look at my two daughters and I think this is possible.

CP: How do you apply these ideals to the concrete realization of your works?

FM: I’ve seen more than ten miles of movies in my whole life. When I was a child I used to watch more than six film a day, it’s a habit.

CP: With a so rich background aren’t you worried that this could affect adversely on your work?

FM: Through my movies I try to escape from memory and realize a genuine Cinema. Film critics have often claimed to notice many similarities to Tarkovskij, Tarr, Malick, Polanski, Bresson e Weerasethakul in my works. So many references to make me believe in the originality of my approach. I tried to do it, I think to be by now a director with his own language. Cinema is the greatest expression of life, it is what allows me to put a face to all my doubts and fears.

CP: Just out of curiosity: what can we expect from the last chapter of your trilogy?

FM: The next and last part of the trilogy is about a fisherman who lives alone with his wife in a magic village.

The Road of Milk (2014)

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