Fires on the border between Paraguay and Mato Grosso do Sul, joining a cold front, darkened the skies over So Paulo in August 2019. That same afternoon, the incident had the opposite effect on Jasmine Tenucci. Blown away by that thick layer of gray clouds and smoke, the headmaster’s mind flashed and he decided to write.
Hence the screenplay of “Seu d’Agosto”, a film that has just earned a special mention at the Cannes Film Festival – the section’s Golden Palm went to Chinese Tang Yi. It was one of three Brazilian short films shown at the cinematographic event, the most imported in the world, some with national features and others co-productions.
Over its 16-minute duration, “Seu de Agosto” follows a pregnant nurse who, during a baby shower on the roof, is covered in darkness that takes the So Paulo sky by storm. The scene is worthy of an apocalyptic movie, and the anxiety that falls upon the previously non-religious Lucia soon leads her to a neo-Pentecostal church.
It was actually by chance that the movie happened. Tenucci had managed to get funding for another short film when he had the idea for “Seu d’Agosto”. He then persuaded his financiers to reinvest the money in the new project – and the decision, after crossing the French coast, could not have been better.
“It was already a huge honor to be selected. It was really a surprise and my first pleasure was knowing that I could show the film on the big screen,” says Tenucci, at a time when many filmmakers have shifted their work to smaller TVs and streaming screens due to the pandemic. limited to. The Cannes Film Festival, which was canceled last year, was able to gather its audience in theaters this edition.
“I thought I’d never be able to see ‘Seu d’Agosto’ on the big screen, and going to Cannes also meant that the film could be seen more, discussed, thought. Only For that reason, it was a huge privilege. Recognition with mention is also great. I like to be wary of it because there are a lot of extraordinary Brazilian films that don’t enter these festivals for various reasons, but, of course, It’s an honor.”
Tenucci was in the United States on the eve of the incident and flew there, already 100% immune, directly to France. Although his team was in Brazil without vaccinations, he was given what was called an “immediate pass” to travel and attend the festivities in person. There it was necessary to get tested for Kovid-19 every 48 hours.
During his visit to Cannes, Tennucci, along with teams from other Brazilian productions on display, created a protest following the season for “O Marinheiro das Montanhas” by Sera’s Karim Aouz. “Brazil: 530,000 dead. Out, genocide gangster”, read the banner organized by the group in the context of coronavirus deaths in the country.
“We tried to make as much noise there. Any attention helps, it puts pressure”, Tennucci says of the act, revising his criticism of the difficulties of funding a film under the management of Jair Bolsonaro, whose government has restricted the release of funds for audiovisuals. intercepting and patrolling subjects.In projects created from public resources.
“Seu d’Agosto” talks a bit about this feeling of despair and paralysis. The apocalypse that took place in the sky of So Paulo on the stage has nothing to do with the end of biblical times. It represents, Tenucci says, a feeling that gripped the whole of Brazil when he wrote the script.
“The black smoke traveled thousands of kilometers and took over the skies over the country’s largest metropolis. It seemed very symbolic to me, it was a feeling of Brazil that at that time was already going through dark days. My character moves towards the church in this matter, at a time when we were all crippled by tension.”
A graduate of USP’s School of Communication and Arts, the director now hopes his Cannes laurels will help him land his next two projects, his first feature films. One of them talks about “a woman in search of the world’s smallest whale”.
The second is an expansion of the 16-minute universe of “Céu de Agosto”, produced by the Brazilian companies AmorDoch and Substância Films, along with foreign resources. The idea is to reuse the premise and elements seen in the Cannes-winning short film, but build a new plot based on them. At the center of the script will be the relationship of two women, one enters the church and the other leaves.
Religiosity has always been a subject that Tenuchi has been interested in. Prior to “Seu d’Agosto”, he developed research on the topic in Brazil, mainly on the increasing presence of neo-Pentecostal churches in society.
“Today the population of these churches is huge and those who are outside understand very little. And I think cinema also represents it in a way that often bothers me. We can’t look at these churches horizontally. Can’t discuss and communicate with it”, says the director, who is not religious.
To him, there is a certain elitism among a large section of the population who, even for historical reasons, views this part of the evangelical faith in a negative and shallow way. He says that the presence of these churches in society and in his short film is much more complex than we believe.
The next stop of “Seu d’Agosto” is at the competitive exhibition of the So Paulo International Short Film Festival – Curta Kinoforum, which starts on the 19th of next month.