“The film is a deep dive into the pains of being a teenager, a reflection about grief and loss, about feeling trapped and disconnected, but it is also a cry for the possibility of transformation. The movie is also a discussion about Brazil’s segregation issues. There are walls all around. Children and young people grow up in huge building complexes that are communities in which most have the same financial condition, white skin and similar political position. This social phenomenon interested me as a writer-director because I am concern about what these bubbles can result in future years on a youth that grows without the possibility of dealing with what is different.” Filmmaker Caroline Fioratti on MY DRYWALL COCOON which screens at this year’s South By Southwest Film & TV Festival.
Welcome to SxSW 2023! Are you attending your screenings in person?
Yes. It’s my first time at SXSW. I will be attending in person and I’ll be at the Q&A in our screenings on Saturday 11th and Monday 13th. It’s my first time at SxSW!
How did this whole project come together?
It was a ten years process. It all started with the desire of portraying the pain of being a teenager growing insides walls. I wanted to do a coral film, with different characters crossing each other while moving through a place they cannot get out – physically, emotionally and mentally. I made a short film exploring this idea inside private school walls. I felt I still had a lot to explore, so I took the theme to a residential complex which, contemporary Brazil, is very common and also a symbol of class segregation.
While working on a project, what is your creative process? Do you have any particular ritual or tradition when working on something?
In my personal projects, I always start from a subject that touches me or from a life experience I would like to talk more about. Then, I start a long process of research about the subject and characters I’ll portrait. Recently I studied psychoanalysis and I have been addressing the construction of the screenplay through this bias, which results in complex characters like we all are in real life. When the time to set up the production comes, I choose my team in partnership with the producer and re-write the screenplay after exchanging with the cast and crew. Even budget limitations become another factor to strengthen the dramaturgy, as it was the case of the set in MY DRYWALL COCOON, this building complex in a circular shape, which became the film universe’s heart.
If you had one favourite moment out of this entire project, the “Yes, this is IT” moment, what would that be?
Probably the process of working with the actors. I like to open the script so they can contribute with ideas. But those ideas are not only rational, they come from a process of connecting what they have that is visceral and human to the pain and monstrosity of the character. I had very generous actors who opened themselves to this process and found actions, lines, relationships that are as complex as real people are.
I love to get technical, so I would love to know about the visual design of the movie from the cameras you used and the formats and your relation to the cinematographer.
We shot the whole movie in one location during a one-month period. We used only one camera, an ARRI Alexa, except for a drone during specific scenes. We had to be creative with a small budget, so I decided with my crew that we would make the reality our aesthetics. I have a long history of working with the cinematographer Helcio Alemão Nagamine, and I knew he could make magic happen even with limited resources. We decided to make long shots with handheld camera during our party scenes in contrast to the still camera from the after-party scenes. That helped to establish the film’s mood.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your project at SxSW 2023?
I am excited and scared at the same time. That’s my most personal project. I feel I am opening my soul to the audience, whispering them my secrets. That’s liberating but also frightening, but I guess filmmaking has this thrilling cliffhanger component. I look forward to listening to the audience perceptions and also the opinion of my fellows filmmakers. Being from Brazil, I believe we have different life experiences, and I am excited to know what feels universal and what’s particular about the story and the characters I am portraying.
Where is this going next? More festivals or a theatrical or streaming release?
SXSW is our World Premiere, so the next step is to continue the festival circuit. We are waiting for answers from European Festivals and starting the submission process to Asian and Latin America Festivals. We also are looking for new screening spaces in North America.
How do you feel about the current moviegoing climate? Are you wishing more people to see movies in theatres, or is it okay to opt for a streaming release where more people could potentially see a movie?
I believe there’s place for both audiences. And even, the same person, can sometimes choose to go to the theater and other times watch at home from a streaming platform. But it’s necessary to keep encouraging, with funds and state police, the business of movie theaters distribution and festivals screenings. The innovative storytelling is mostly independent and needs those places. As a filmmaker and also as part of the audience, I don’t want to see only what the algorithm recommends me, only the mainstream. That would be restrict my access to new experiences of aesthetics and storytelling.
What is the one thing that you would say to someone who is looking to get into movies, even now in such a changing world?
You got to have passion! It’s difficult, it’s hard working, you will listen a lot of no’s, but if it’s your calling you will find a way. A filmmaker must be creative not only in storytelling but also to find the means to make a movie and to distribute, and creativity comes with information and study. I also would say to be connect to your community and society. Powerful stories come from this connection.
And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival and why?
I saw great movies in festivals, so it’s difficult to choose the best one. But I will share a movie experience that made me think about this relationship between the audience and the film. It was an Ukrainian film, THE TRIBE, by writer-director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, which tells the story of teenage gangs of deaf silent language users. The whole movie is in silent language without subtitle and I, like most of the audience, do not know the language, and that experience is part of the film. There were tough some silent language users sitting close to me, they were teenagers, and they were very into the movie, and I knew they were having a different experience that I was, and that was fascinating: how the film could communicate in those different levels with the audience. Besides that, it’s a movie that portray teenagers in a very rough way and that’s something I also do in my personal films.
This film and many others like it will be showing at South By Southwest taking place March 10-19. For more information point your browser to www.sxsw.com!