TIFF 2017 Profile: Carolina Markowicz
“Women must be heard, for the sake not only of movies, but of society.”
I implore you to read the synopsis of Long Distance Relationship (original title Namoro À Distância) and not have it fly to the top of your TIFF “Must See” List:
A man obsessed with extraterrestrial coitus enters into an alien phone sex program in Brazil to edge closer towards his goal. Lust reaches cosmic heights in this deadpan comic exploration of the expanse and mystery of human desire.
Believe me when I say that this film delivers on the promises made by its synopsis. Writer/director Carolina Markowicz penned a screenplay that delivers amazingly absurd and dark ideas through a dialogue that oozes with unique bizarreness and deadpan humour. Her directing is no less impressive, with exciting visuals that range from deliberate, scene-setting shots to hand-drawn animation to psychotropic imagery. If Long Distance Relationship wasn’t already on your radar, I suggest you add it ASAP!
Carolina is an award-winning director and screenwriter based out of São Paulo, Brazil. Her first short film, 69 — Praça da Luz (69 — Luz Square), won several awards around the world — including Best Short Film at Rio De Janeiro International Film Festival — and was screened at the MoMa in New York City. Her next short (Tatuapé Mahal Tower, which she wrote and co-directed) premiered at TIFF in 2014 and went on to screen at more than 200 festivals worldwide and win dozens of awards, including Best Film at over 15 festivals. In December 2016, the screenplay for her first feature film, When My Life Was My Life, won SPCINE’s (São Paulo Film Commission) script doctoring award.
You can see the World Premiere of Long Distance Relationship at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, screening as part of Short Cuts Programme 04 on September 9th at 9:45PM and September 15th at 9:30PM. GET YOUR TICKETS HERE.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with filmmaking.
Carolina Markowicz: I’m a 34-year-old filmmaker from São Paulo, Brazil. I lived in the countryside of São Paulo until I was 17 and I guess the calmer life allowed me to be an observer of people and how they behave, of having an ironic look at that. I was always interested in stories and movies, so even though I didn’t go to film school, I started making my own films.
Tell us a bit about LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP. Where did the idea come from?
CM: It’s about a guy who’s obsessed with having sex with extraterrestrials. It came, at first, from trying to make fun of my own phobias: I have phobia of vomiting, for instance. So, the film starts with the guy saying that he doesn’t fear anything, doesn’t have any ambitions, and that he only has one single goal in life: to fuck an ET. I guess that made all my phobias seem small. And pretty normal. Also, it was some tone of criticism to all the absurdity that happens in Brazil nowadays. It’s an ironic ode to the “everything is possible” that we live in.
What inspired you to include the added layer of animation to this live-action film?
CM: I believe that the layer of animation was the only way to represent more freely the character’s trip—how he imagined himself with his beloved ETs.
The synopsis of LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP is one that leaves me truly wanting as much as I can get and I could easily see this short acting as a proof of concept for a feature-length film. Do you have any plans to expand this story or this universe into a lengthier project?
CM: It would be pretty awesome to do so, and I guess it could happen for sure.
What was the biggest challenge of working on this project?
CM: Well, I’m totally into dark and absurdist deadpan humor. Making a 5 minute piece that had to be powerful somehow and also keep the intended tone, that was a big challenge.
Can you tell us about some/all of the other amazing women who worked on this film?
CM: Absolutely! I’ll talk about three of them. My producer, Mayra Auad, is a very strong and talented producer, and my partner in many projects. My editor, Daniela Guimarães, dominates rhythm beautifully. And my AD, Mayra Ferro, is so wise and experienced, always helping me to stay in the right path.
Tell us about why you are a feminist and why it’s important to your filmmaking.
CM: Sure. Because women MUST have space—big time space — to showcase their own voices as filmmakers. In Canada and the USA, things are looking better, but in Brazil only around 10% of our films are written or directed by women. It’s outrageous. We have to change that. Women must be heard, for the sake not only of movies, but of society.
Who are your favourite women working in the film industry?
CM: So many, but I can say I truly love Agnés Varda, Andrea Arnold, and Kathryn Bigelow.
What’s the best advice about filmmaker you’ve ever received?
CM: “If it feels wrong — it is wrong.”
What are you working on now/next?
CM: I’m working on my first feature film, which is a dark-humored drama about a Latin American mafia that trades people in Brazil.
And now for some fun ones! If you could hold any Guinness World Record, what would it be?
CM: It would be for Most Anxious Person Alive. Not that I like that…
What was the best thing that happened to you this past week?
CM: This year has been great, I can’t complain. But last week specifically?Not sure!
Recommend one #MUFFApproved film for our blog readers:
CM: Of fucking course! My recommendation would be the wonderful film by Marielle Heller called The Diary Of A Teenage Girl. It’s so fresh and free and full of inspiration and has an amazing actress (Bel Powley) as the main character.
Lisa Gallagher is the Producer of The MUFF Society in Toronto. She is a lover of cats, carbs, and laying down.