Rafaela Camelo and Emanuel Lavor on „As miçangas“/ interview

Rafaela Camelo: The screenwriter and director was born in Brazil in 1985. Her short film O Mistério da Carne premiered at the 2019 Sundance Festival. In 2021, she participated in Talents Buenos Aires, a programme of Berlinale Talents. She is currently developing Blood of My Blood, her debut feature film. As Miçangas is her third short film.

Emanuel Lavor: Born in Brazil in 1995, the filmmaker, actor and analogue photographer studied screenwriting at the Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV in Cuba. His screenplay for his feature project The Jaguar took part in the 13th Brasil Cine Mundi international coproduction meeting where it won the Official Jury Prize among others. As Miçangas is his second short film.

What was your starting point for “As Miçangas”?

Emanuel Lavor: After years working with the actresses – Tícia and Pâmela – in a play that I directed, we decided to take the initiative to develop an audiovisual project tailored for them, which represented us thematically and artistically. Furthermore, based on a profound dialogue with Emily Bandeira – to whom the film is dedicated and also a script’s consultant and researcher, with extensive knowledge and experience with the proposed theme -, the story took shape in a very fluid way.

Rafaela Camelo: My relationship with “As Miçangas” started with Emanuel’s invitation to co-direct. He prepared the material to be submitted to a public fund (in which the project was later awarded) and had already written a version of the script, made especially for actresses Pâmela Germano and Tícia Ferraz. The link between the two of us was precisely the cast, as I became very close to Pâmela because of my previous short film, in which she also acts. Manu and I had never worked together, despite our mutual admiration. Thinking about it, it seems crazy to me to agree to co-direct with someone I didn’t know, something like a blind marriage. No doubt I was influenced by the complimentary comments from Pâmela and also from Bianca Terraza, because while I was finalizing the short in which they were actresses, Emanuel was rehearsing a play with them. Today I understand how it was a right choice, because we achieved a good balance between our artistic visions and complemented each other in several aspects.

Do you have a favorite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

Emanuel Lavor: The sequence in which Pâmela takes the medication and lies on her sister’s lap. For me it’s my favorite moment from the moment we filmed. It was unforgettable, strong, with the whole crew very moved, holding back the emotion until the „cut“. I love this long, suspended, tense moment, based on waiting in a shot focused on their faces, interrupted by an unexpected nervous laugh, which could have sounded impolite if it weren’t for a space of fraternity and intimacy. A moment that, despite only one having an abortion, is intensely experienced by two people. All this with the snake lurking, something that brings the mixture between the raw and allegorical tones that we were looking for.

Rafaela Camelo: I really like the moments when the film gives false clues to the viewer. We worked on this idea in objects (the machete, the scissors), in the distortion of gender codes (like the scream in the woods), in the presence of a snake that at first is understood as a threat. Among these red herrings is the scene I like best. It happens at the moment when the two sisters are preparing for the abortion and Tícia measures Pâmela’s neck with a nylon thread, which until that moment we did not know that the objective was to make the bead necklace. I like how this simple gesture embodies various symbols from the film, such as fraternal care, the ritual that begins with making a beaded necklace, the wait to find out if the procedure will work, the dread of having an abortion, and all that can go wrong. 

 What do you like about the short form?

Emanuel Lavor: The understanding that synthesis is a space full of sophistication. While I studied at EICTV in Cuba, a sentence written in red letters on a school wall became a kind of mantra –  if I remember correctly, it was like this: “a short film is a sharp arrow that goes straight to the heart”.

Rafaela Camelo: I really like short films and intend to continue producing in that format. I remember an analogy made by Júlio Cortázar about short stories and novels that I feel applies perfectly to the relationship between feature and short films. While the novel needs to win by a point, the short story needs to win by knockout. I find it challenging to think of a story that, in a few movements, establishes a universe, a character’s point of view and an event of symbolic value.

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