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Home page > Interview-Portrait > Carlos Diegues (14 June 2012)

Carlos Diegues Caméra d’Or Jury President

When Italy had its neo-realism and France, the Nouvelle vague, a new movement arose in Brazil as well: Cinema Novo, that had put the spotlight on a new generation of directors, aiming to put real issues on screen. One of the best known directors from this generation is Carlos Diegues, and now he presides the Caméra d’Or jury in Cannes, awarding the best first feature and taking a closer look at where young folks are driving cinema.

You made your first feature in the ’60s, what do you think is different for directors starting out nowadays?

Cinema became an art of the young people once again. One of the reasons I accepted to be in the jury is because I have the opportunity to discover the new tendencies all over the world: young filmmakers are the ones making them. When I made my first feature, only 5 or 6 films per year were made in Brazil – now they make around one hundred. I wouldn’t say it’s easier now from the industry point of view, but it’s easier regarding the technology. Everything is going to change in the next few years, and young people are the ones deciding where we are going.

Can you tell me more about how the financing system in Brazil supports debut features?

One law allows people to deduct film production costs from their taxes. There is also direct funding from the government for young filmmakers, who don’t have the same advantages as the established ones. But most films are produced from the tax shelter fund.

One of your main beliefs is that a film has to fit the time it was made in; is that going to be one of the criteria for the Camera d’Or award?

I have no nostalgia for the past, I want to make films of the present: I think that’s our duty as filmmakers, to make films about ourselves and our contemporaries, so that’s my main criteria. Even a historical film can speak about the present.

What will be your other criteria?

First of all, sincerity! It’s very difficult to lie in film because we can see it so easily. Do whatever your heart is telling you to do, but with sincerity. I also appreciate it when films try to surprise the audience, not following the line of whatever was made in the past. You can make comedies, tragedies or dramas, but sincerity and the concern for the present are what make them good.

Being a director in a jury, do you think you have any advantages or difficulties?

These are first films and I want to be supportive, so I’m very much afraid of doing injustice; when you choose a film you are putting aside all the others. You can say „these are the good ones, these are the bad ones”, but „this is the best” is very difficult. But my colleagues are very good, we discuss every film a lot and go very deeply, I’m very happy with the jury.

So young people are the ones setting the new tendencies in cinema. What do you think these tendencies are right now?

I’m dying to know! I really think we are at a turning point in cinema, the tendencies are very diverse. There are no genres anymore, every film is a genre in itself, so it’s a great moment to make original films and speak about ourselves.

How do you feel about the digitalization of cinema?

I can’t say if it’s good or bad, it’s a reality. I don’t miss the optical, you can make a good film in digital as well. I will start working on a new film by the end of the year and I am using digital. It’s easier and my subject can be adapted to that.

What do you think about the film schools in Brazil?

In my time there were no schools in Brazil, so we used to learn making films by making them. Now they go to school and learn everything, so they save a lot of time! There are many new schools all over the country, and many young filmmakers coming from these schools. There is a very good school in Sao Paolo, maybe the best in South America – USP.

Apart from schools, there are many workshops and training programs all over the world nowadays, do you think they can be more useful than schools?

I don’t believe there are any rules in learning to make films: of course, it’a technology, you can learn the technology but no one can teach you the talent.

by Andreaa Dobre

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