Campo grande: Story of a Brasil That Is Constantly Moving

 Sandra Kogut presents Campo Grande in the Latin American Competition

 

Everything is being built in Campo Grande. The buildings of Ipanema in Rio, two children, waiting for her mother, who have been left at the doorstep of Regina, the protagonist, who is, in turn, preparing her move. Everything is being built in a city in transit, moved by its protagonists’ changes. A beautiful story of a Brazil that is constantly moving.


 

Could you tell us about the context of the film and its relationship to contemporary Brazil?

Campo Grande takes place at a very unique moment of Brazilian history: during the last years the entire country has become one big construction site. In the wake of the recent economic boom, cities all over Brazil are undertaking major renovation and building projects: new roads, subway systems, housing developments and shopping centers are popping up everywhere. But this is all being done in a rather chaotic, explosive and hasty fashion that often feels like a desperate civilizing effort doomed to fail. In its contemporary chaos, Brazil sometimes makes one think of China. If you go to a street with some little houses and then return one month later, for example, the houses are gone, replaced by a new condominium under construction. Streets are flooded with cars and traffic jams are a fixture. But for a social class that never owned automobiles and always dreamed about them, traffic jams are a symbol of progress. The very idea of citizenship is being confused with the one of consumerism. To be a citizen is now synonymous with the right to buy. This is the context in which the film was written and made.

We shot on location in a Rio de Janeiro completely transformed by ongoing construction: streets become hard to recognize, there is scaffolding everywhere, and the dominant impression is one of disorienting temporary transition. This very chaos – one of the principle subjects of the film and the story’s universe – was also what made possible the particular way we worked. We never blocked streets for our shoot, often filming without permits, mingling with the city, as in a documentary film. This was also true for the most dramatic scenes. Sometimes we had a few extras mixed in with the crowd, but – on p urpose – neither the actors nor the crew knew who they were. Sometimes reality seemed so exaggerated that passers-by looked like extras to us.

So can we say this is a realistic film?

The context is realistic, but the film’s world is subjective, internal. It does take place in a very concrete reality, but this landscape is also a mental one. It expresses the emotional universe of the characters, the impasse that each of them is facing. The construction sites do exist, the film is all shot on locations, but the chaos represents more than the moment faced by the country – it expresses the character’s inner world. Furthermore, this chaos goes beyond issues of class, gender and race, even if these things are at play here, of course. It’s not a sociological film; it’s about the unpredictability of life that transcends these categories. Ygor is nine years old, Regina is fifty; the child is poor, Regina is wealthy – but in emotional terms they are peers. Both are going through one of those moments in which your life changes so abruptly that it has not yet become something else, but is no longer what it was. No longer not yet; and still, I believe that following the moment we see in the film, everything will only get better for each of them.

Is Campo Grande a real place?

In the Western part of Rio de Janeiro there is a neighborhood with this name where we did shoot some scenes of the movie. Someone who lives in Ipanema – the wealthiest part of the city – would not go there: not only because it is more than eighty kilometers away, but because it represents the bourgeoisie’s worst nightmares – a place controlled by militias, a dangerous territory. But the Campo Grande in the movie is more than that. Literally meaning "large or wide field” it is a place for all sorts of possibilities, good and bad. An open territory, the unknown. For Ygor, Ipanema is his Campo Grande

Tell us about your work with the actors…

The children had never acted before; only some of the adults were professional actors and not very famous ones, since they don’t do television. We prepared for months prior to the shoot and the commitment of the actors was intense and absolute – something I am convinced only actors somewhat outside the system can afford. All the actors were on the set every day, regardless of whether they had scenes to shoot. They were there to help the others, to preserve the relationships between the characters during each other’s scenes. It was ten times scarier to Rayane (the five-year old girl) for example if she knew Regina was in the house, even if she was not participating in her scene. The same thing was true for the adults. The character’s world was stronger than anything else.

 

MON 2, 10.20 am, CIN 1
MON 2, 6.50 pm, CIN 1
TUE 3, 4.00 pm, CIN 1

 


 

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