YIDFF 2009 International Competition
Because We Were Born
An Interview with Jean-Pierre Duret, Andrea Santana (Directors)

Invited to Discover Northeast Brazilian World

Q: There is some kind of universality in your film. What made you choose Brazil rather than any another disadvantaged countries?

Andrea Santana (AS): I am Brazilian and both Jean-Pierre and I like this northeast region where I come from a lot. This film is the third of a trilogy we have already shot in Brazil.

Jean-Pierre Duret (JPD): The rural environment reminds me of my homeland, Savoie. I think people from those rural areas get very little consideration from the outer world and I always wanted to make a film to show that. Although the environment is bad and their life is difficult, they have an inner strength and a will to live from which we all have something to learn.

Q: The scenes are very natural; we feel invited into their world rather than judging their condition. How did you meet this community? How did you establish trust?

AS: People we film are always the first to see it. When we screened the second film we stopped in the gas station and met a child begging. We asked him if he had an ID and, “I have nothing but my life,” was his answer. We decided to investigate why this child, Junior, was thinking this way. Also, those people are very family-oriented and the fact that we are a couple helped them to feel confident.

JPD: Although we started filming immediately after we arrived, we had to take our time so that they would not have any wrong ideas about what we were going to do with this film. What those people miss most is recognition and staying for a long time enabled the children and people to realize that we were here for them. The shooting lasted for six months during which I built a deep and complex relationship with Cocada; like father and son.

Q: Parents and adults often remind children that their situation was worse when they were the same age. Do you think that this situation is going to get better?

JPD: Unless a lot of money is to be injected, sadly, it’s not going to improve. The environment is absolutely barren; there is no hope for the future for the children in this region. The solution cannot be local; it needs efforts from every country to valorize these disadvantaged places because their poverty is directly linked to our wealth.

Q: Your film tends to follow the electoral campaigns. Why?

AS: We were in the middle of the electoral campaigns and we wanted to compare the language of politicians with the language of the people we filmed.

JPD: It’s a metaphor of our mass media, of our politics. In Brazil, political communication is traditionally made with a loudspeaker: a permanent loud sound, where soft and individual voices get lost; two worlds that never meet.

Q: What did the film bring to the children?

AS: They were really happy about the film. They understood things about their lives and their environment retrospectively when we screened the film a year later.

JPD: They could have never realized how their lives, once recorded as a film, could bear such colorful aspects and take on a beautiful appearance. The film cannot change anything in their lives; only bring them some recognition and self-identity.

(Compiled by Raphaelle Fuseau)

Interviewers: Raphaelle Fuseau, Tayu Yamanouchi Hayward
Photography: Tanaka Kayako / Video: Hsiao Shu-Yii / 2009-10-11