Julia and Ana head for the Brazilian countryside in search of their father. A little lost, silent, united. Along the way, they will come across fossils, boys, ghosts and the end of the world as they knew it.. Irma is a unique experience. Beginning as a family drama, it branches off, twists and stretches. Little by little, the quest of these two young sisters takes on the appearance of a melancholy and strange initiatory tale, between philosophical reflections suffused with poetry (“Is it to be beautiful that you have lipstick?” ‘them. “No, it’s to swallow the whole world”), sorority, dinosaurs and asteroid pop.
Through this baroque road trip to the borders of Brazil, the filmmakers Luciana Mazeto and Vinicius Lopes pay homage to the lively and fiercely rebellious youth of a country in the throes of chaos. They imagined fearless girls who come up against a suffocating patriarchal world, they who only dream of the freshness of waterfalls, of sweetness and freedom.
During a Zoom to Brazil, Luciana Mazeto and Vinicius Lopes told us about their subtly political feminist feature film and their hopes of seeing their Brazil come back to life after the Bolsonaro nightmare.
Terrafemina: When did you start working together? It is quite rare for a woman-man pair to co-direct a film.
Vinicius Lopes: We met at our film school, the Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, in 2010. And we started making films together with other friends from the first semester. We also created our production company, Pátio Vazio. It was at the end of our studies that we started co-directing and co-writing together. And we never stopped this collaboration.
Luciana Mazeto: We have other friends who work as a woman-man pair. But it’s true that it’s not that common. There aren’t that many women directors either, but that is finally and happily changing!
What do you think this parity brings to your work?
Luciana Mazeto: Working together ultimately points to the weird stuff that happens when a woman or a man is in charge. Sure Irma, we were a very small team and we mainly worked with women. But for our second film, which is almost finished, we could see the difference when orders come from me or from Vinicius. I am much more directive and pragmatic in my role as director, whereas Vinicius is much more delicate. When we encountered sticking points, I tended to say, “We don’t care, we do it anyway.” We have used this dynamic in our favor. We don’t have the breakdown of gender roles that people would expect to see. And it ultimately works very well.
Vinicius Lopes: Yes, we have identified sexist reflexes that should no longer take place in teams. Except that they are still present. We are working to change that.
Irma is a hybrid, unique film. How did this story come about?
Vinicius Lopes: The film begins with the image of these two young sisters who are on a bus, we do not know where they are going, or why. But we want to stay with them for a long time. This is the basis of our entire film.
Luciana Mazeto: At the time of filming, we had the feeling that something was going to happen in Brazil, something bad that was going to change everything. At that time, however, everything was going well for the minorities and the context was very favorable to creation, the directors. But we were very pessimistic about our future. And we were … right because we are now in the middle of an apocalypse. We wanted to transcribe this feeling of threat, this feeling that something is about to end.
Vinicius Lopes: In Irma, there is this idea of extinction, of interrupted cycles – whether in terms of species extinction or a sexist family vicious circle. These sisters will interrupt these cycles to be able to be different.
Luciana Mazeto: The shoot came when Brazilian women were becoming very powerful and we were witnessing the emergence of a major feminist movement. It was an incredible moment, very inspiring, but the backlash was also very strong and sexism took back its rights with the election of Bolsonaro in 2018.