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The first idea for TRÊS TIGRES TRISTES (Three Tidy Tigers Tied A Tie Tighter) entered my head in 2016, sparked by the backstories and energy of the protagonists: three young people wandering through São Paulo, each engaged in their own personal struggle. Six years, various screenplays, one coup, one fascist president, the scrapping of Brazilian culture, the demise of National Film Agency Ancine, and one pandemic later this feature length film finally sees the light of day, transformed into an naturalised apocalypse where the only hope that exists is hope in the unreal. “A new world is impossible, and that’s where we’re headed,” says Mirta, the character played by Cida Moreira.

Certain films provided reference points, not necessarily in terms of aesthetics, but for that specific feeling and aura of innocence.

I’d always wanted to make a film that was tender and a little naïve, harking back to a rather childlike world—albeit a bittersweet one. The hard reality of our times turned this desire into a necessity. Certain films provided reference points, not necessarily in terms of aesthetics, but for that specific feeling and aura of innocence. These films touch me deeply, like TAMPOPO by Juzu Itami, HAUSU by Nobuhiko Obayashi, HAROLD AND MAUDE by Hal Ashby, and DANÇA DOS BONECOS by Helvécio Ratton, a Brazilian film that I watched over and over as a child.

TRÊS TIGRES TRISTES became a road movie on foot, searching for nothing specific but allowing itself to be carried along by what it found. It brought new loves: the three principal actors (Jonata Vieira, Isabella Pereira, and Pedro Ribeiro), who had never worked in cinema before, and who I found through social networks with the help of Nash Laila (casting director and a dear friend) and Tainá Mühringer, who co-wrote the film with me. My process with the three actors involved almost a year and a half of virtual meetings, in which we shared cinematic references and experiences. This bonding process was a fundamental form of preparation for when we eventually met on set, with our shoot severely restricted both in terms of time (3 weeks) and money (we had significant expenses relating to Covid security but Ancine—now under Bolsonaro’s control—refused to adjust our budget accordingly).

Friends and enemies

The film also brought together old friends: the voice of Cida Moreira, which always makes me cry (Cida had already worked with me in 2016, when she gave me a song of hers for the short film OS CUIDADOS QUE SE TEM COM O CUIDADO QUE OS OUTROS DEVEM TER CONSIGO MESMOS);  the musical compositions of Marco Dutra and Caetano Gotardo; beloved actors like Julia Katharine, Gilda Nomacce, Majeca Angelucci, and Carlos Escher; the paintings and designs of Gabriel Pessoto, who has done so many posters for my films (including this one) and who appears in the film in the guise of the artwork made by the character Pedro; the editing of my friend from film school, Rodrigo Carneiro (who also produced the film); and the presence (in the role of the jaguar) of the internet celebrity Inês Brasil, of whom I’m a great fan, and who for me represents Brazil’s wish to live, to be present, to belong, to be seen, and to desire.

And as the name Inês Brasil indicates, the country itself is one of the main themes of the film, represented by various national symbols scattered throughout: the colours of the Brazilian flag on the rolling paper of a joint; the iconic and polluted River Tietê; a golden map hidden among an assortment of objects; and the soundtrack, on which João Marcos de Almeida reinterprets Brazilian classical music using synthesizers. Another theme which seems important to me for a broad reading of the film is the value of things, particularly money, which permeates every relationship. Of course these are two enigmas—national identity and capital—that the film does not pretend to solve. “That’s crapitalism!” the main characters like to say.

Grand themes aside, I hope more than anything else that those watching TRÊS TIGRES TRISTES find it a pleasant and fun experience. After all, it’s at once a musical, a romantic comedy, a fantasy, an adventure, sci-fi, a teen-flick, a kid’s movie, and a Latin American film…

Gustavo Vinagre

Translation: Joseph Owen

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