65th Berlinale Interview: Lirio Ferreira (Co Writer/Director – ‘Blue Blood/Sangue Azul’)

Living on an idyllic island paradise, ten-year-old Pedro was separated from his sister Raquel because their mother feared a forbidden attraction between the siblings. Against his will, the boy was sent away to the mainland where he joined a traveling circus.

Growing up among a colorful family of circus performers, Pedro transforms into a legendary figure called ‘Zolah, the Cannon Man’. On a circus tour, Zolah – now grown into a handsome and seductive man – returns to the mystical island he was forced to leave behind. Trying to reconnect with his past, he longs for the forbidden love of his lost childhood…

The visually stunning ‘Blue Blood‘ took home Best film, director and supporting actor (Romulo Braga) honors at the 2014 Rio Film Festival. It also received the Trophy for Best Cinematography (Mauro Pinheiro Jr, ABC) and Costume Design (Juliana Prysthon) at VI Paulinia Film Festival.

At the 65th Berlinale, we caught up with the film’s Director Lirio Ferreira to speak about shooting an entire feature film on a remote Island, its casting process and more.  ‘Blue Blood‘ screens as part of the Berlinale Panorama section with additional screening on Friday, February 13 in Berlin, Germany.

Find more information on ‘Blue Blood’ at 65th BerlinaleHERE

Can you talk about the location you chose to tell this story? Why an Island?
The Island is called Fernando Noronha, discovered in the XV century. The archipelago got its name from the Portuguese merchant Fernão de Loronha, to whom it was given by the Portuguese crown for services rendered regarding wood imported from Brazil. Situated in the Northeast region, it has always been a very strategic place. The Island was made a federal territory during World War II, a Navy base of the US at some point, invaded by the Dutch, French, and even was a prison at one time. After the Brazilian constitution in the year 1988, it became the state of Pernambuco. we chose this island for the location and for

We also chose this island for the location and for its volcanic origins. As the drama unfolds on the peak of the volcanic area, we considered it a great metaphor.

Also the distance that the character Zolah has from the mainland  makes him more prodigal.

BLUEBLOOD5What was the inspiration behind the film?
I wanted to tell a story from an image about an Island; a land that doesn’t move; that’s static, as well as an Island that does move, which in this case is a Circus; basically an Island in an island. I wanted to talk about love, and the endless possibilities of it.

After my research, I found there were more men than women living there. The natives don’t leave the Island so they end up having relationships amongst themselves, cousins marrying cousins and so forth. On the contrary, in the circus, people keep moving, but when it comes to relationships they end up marrying within their circle.

After realizing these facts, I decided to create this story. Discovering this Island, I wanted to talk about incest, and the relationship between siblings, and the natives excitement towards the circus.  All these facts created the story of this image: an Island in an Island.

How did you find the casting process?
The actors were very generous, filming on an Island far away from the mainland.

Sandra Corveloni, who plays the mother of Zolah, won the Best Actress Award in the Cannes Film Festival in 2008.

Daniel de Oliveira, the main character, is an extraordinary actor. I always wanted to work with him. He is well known in Brazil and, for me, he can easily break through his comfort zone.

I wanted to bring the cast to the Island before filming, to fully create the experience of what it is like to live there, in a small space. In the story I mention that you can get crazy for being isolated, so for me it was important to create this experience beforehand. Some actors are real circus performers and a few are also natives from the Island.

The actor Ruy Guerra is actually a veteran director, he’s 85 years old. Born in Mozambique, lived in Lisbon and emigrated to Brazil in the 60’s. I was very privileged to work with these actors.

What were the challenges filming on the Island?
Blue Bloods was entirely shot on the Island, which has never been done before.  Some commercials and parts of films have been shot there but not an entire feature length film. All though for me this place seems like a paradise, its a very expensive place to shoot, of course.   To bring an entire circus, and all the equipment it definitely wasn’t easy. I needed the atmosphere of what it is like to be stranded in Fernando

All though for me this place seems like a paradise, its a very expensive place to shoot, of course.   To bring an entire circus, and all the equipment definitely wasn’t easy. I needed the atmosphere of what it is like to be stranded in Fernando Neronha, so I decided to shoot the entire film there, instead of the circus shots being filmed in Sao Paulo or Rio.

Stitched PanoramaWhat are some of  your cinematic influences?
I am a fan of auteur cinema, when the audience can think for themselves, allowing them to create and not reveal the obvious; basically the viewers can fill in the gaps.

I’m also influenced by Italian neorealism, American cinema of the 50’s and Orson Welles, as a director.

How was the reaction of the Brazilian audience, especially in Fernando Neronha?
The film was very well received. The Island is usually known as an expensive and “touristy” place to visit, so I consider the film depicted another aspect of the place.

The story has a universal message and shows a different aspect than the one’s traditionally depicted about Brazilian society, such as the favela stories, or about violence and corruption. The country is so diverse so I think it created a lot of curiosity. I have to say the reaction was very positive.

Interview conducted & transcribed (from Portuguese) by Lia Fietz
Edited by Steve Rickinson

Facebook: /Sangue Azul – O Filme

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