Aly Muritiba is a Brazilian screenwriter, editor, producer and film director. His shorts have screened at film festivals around the world, such as Cannes, Warsaw, Rio de Janeiro, Biarritz and Montpellier, with his 2011 short film A Fábrica winning best short at Toronto and Clermont-Ferrand. His first feature work was alongside four other Brazilian directors on the portmanteau Circular, which won best screenplay at Maringa. Muritiba's feature film debut, To My Beloved, won the 2013 Sundance Institute/Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award at Sundance and premiered at Montréal, Chicago, Stockholm, San Sebastián and Brazilia, where it won Best Director.
In an exclusive interview with Filmatique, Aly Muritiba discusses calibrating tension, the aegis of masculinity in Brazilian society, and his next project.
FILMATIQUE: To My Beloved depicts a man who is fractured by his wife's recent death, and a discovery about her life emerging in the aftermath. There are several shots of characters in a mirror or through tinted glass. How did the choice to distort the characters' images arise vis-à-vis your idea of the narrative?
ALY MURITIBA: The film is about this character who is, in some way, fragmented, broken. All of his beliefs about love, about his lover, were broken by the revelation of betrayal. So one of the cinematographic ways I found to reveal this shattered state of Fernando was through the broken and opaque mirrors.
FLMTQ: One of the strongest aspects of the film is the feeling of tension— though there is a constant lingering sense that violence is about to erupt, it moves very slowly and quietly. How did you seek to create and calibrate this tension in the film?
AM: I believe that a precise balance between tension and non-tension gives To My Beloved its personality. The spectator is always glued to Fernando, never knowing what he will do— but whatever he does, he will do it in a calculated, slow way because this is his nature. And at the same time, Fernando is a man in mourning. There is anger— but this mourning precedes the anger, and for me mourning must be enjoyed over a long time. This is why the rhythm of the film is slowed down, while remaining tense.
FLMTQ: Apart from being a thriller, this film also paints a portrait of a lower-middle class, conservative Brazilian family. What motivated you to depict this part of Brazilian culture? Is this a world you are familiar with?
AM: Yes, very much. I live and work at Curitiba, one of the most conservatives and sexists cities in my country, where the presence of Catholicism and Christian morality determines all relationships, both personal and romantic. So, yes, I speak with a lot of knowledge of this world.
FLMTQ: Can you reflect on what this film says about the nature of obsession and masculinity in Brazilian society?
AM: We are a society formed by a feminine majority, that, nevertheless, still lives under the aegis of the male figure. Despite its modern image, Brazil has one of the highest rates of feminicide in Latin America. Here women work harder and are paid less; women's participation in national politics is only around 20%; the only democratically-elected female president in our history was deposed by a parliamentary coup led by men.
Brazil is a misogynist country and men here fear and persecute women in an obsessive way.
FLMTQ: Are you working on any new projects?
AM: Rust, my new feature film is currently in post-production.
Interview by Marisa Winckowski
Guest Curator at Filmatique