Interview with Brazilian director André Ristum

André Ristum is a Brazilian director and producer raised in Italy. His direction debut, with the short film Sombumbo (1975)happened when he was only 4 years old. However, his film career officially started in the 1990s when he worked as an assistant director in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty (1996) and Rob Cohen’s Daylight (1996).

Back in Brazil, he directed the short-film Pobres por um Dia (1998) that won the Best Direction and Best Screenplay awards at the Festival de Curitiba (Brazil). His short films, Homem Voa? (2001), De Glauber para Jirges (2005), 14 Bis (2006) and Nello’s (2008) guaranteed his participation in important national and international film festivals such as Venice (Italy), Biarritz (France), É Tudo Verdade (Brazil) and Mostra de São Paulo (Brazil).

In 2004, he directed his first feature film, the documentary Tempo de Resistência. Seven years later he would debut his first fiction feature film Meu País (2011) that was a huge success at national festivals and awards. His second feature film, O Outro Lado do Paraíso (2015), received over 14 awards in festivals all around the world.

Ristum is currently promoting his latest film A Voz do Silêncio which is set to premier in Brazil during the second semester of 2018 after participating in the Festival de Málaga (Spain) and in the Festival de Gramado (Brazil), where he received the Best Direction Award.

Andre Ristum - Foto Felipe Gonçalves

YOUR FILMS HAVE PARTICIPATED IN DIFFERENT FESTIVALS: FROM NATIONAL TO INTERNATIONAL, BIG TO SMALL, GENRE SPECIFIC TO ALL GENRES. HOW DO YOU, AS A DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER, RELATE TO EACH FESTIVAL? DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TYPE?

In general, I try to have a premiere in an international festival before taking the film for a national festival premiere. I like to participate in all types of festival, from small to big, national to international, because each one offers a different experience. In bigger festivals, there’s a very interesting opportunity to network with professionals from the entire world even if your film is just one among dozens. On the other hand, smaller festivals tend to highlight more the selected films. Plus, there’s a possibility to interact more with the audience and to feel how the different cultures react to your project. In Brazil, every festival has some sort of interaction with the audience. Besides, they introduce your film to the country through press coverage, which is fundamental for the national release of the film.

HOW POWERFUL IS THE PARTICIPATION ON A FILM FESTIVAL WHEN IT COMES TO DISTRIBUTING AND SELLING A BRAZILIAN FILM?

Participating in an important international festival is fundamental for a Brazilian film to have a life, whether in the festival circuit or in the sales market. Depending on the festival, it might radically change the sales success and a festivals’ career, especially when the film is considered to be Arthouse. When it comes to distribution in Brazil, participating in a distinctive national festival is always very important as a release platform for the film since the distribution press attention and the P&A budget tend to be very small. So any press and media your film gets, helps a lot.

YOU HAVE A VERY INTERESTING STORY ABOUT YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH FILM FESTIVALS. COULD YOU PLEASE SHARE THAT WITH US?

I was three years old, at the time living in Rome, and I used to go to the film sets where my dad, Jirges Ristum, and my stepdad, Ivan Isola, used to work. I was fascinated with the process and saw it all as a big game. I used to ask the cinematographer’s when he would go to my house, so we could shoot my film. After a few attempts to make me give up on the idea, and me not backing down, Ivan told me that we needed a script to make a film. I told him to start writing while I dictated. I hadn’t learned how to write yet. And that’s how Sombumbo started. A Super 8 short film with scenes from my day-to-day life. We shot the whole film and the director from a Super 8 film festival at Filmstudio in Rome requested that we finalized the film in order for him to show it in a young directors’ session. In December 1975, I had my first ever participation on a festival alongside Nanni Moretti who was showing one of his first films, also in Super 8. That was probably my most prestigious premiere ever, with the presence of Bernardo Bertolucci, Glauber Rocha and Michelangelo Antonioni, all of them were directors with whom my father collaborated at the time.

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