When Brazilian filmmaker Gustavo Pizzi came to Houston for Latin Wave — a showcase of contemporary Latin American cinema at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston— he was generous enough to find time to talk with Film Monitor about his film, Riscado (“Craft”). His wife and actress Karine Teles is the star of the film, playing the main role of Bianca, a struggling actress who does a variety of odd jobs such as celebrity impersonator and costumed club promoter. Riscado follows the talented yet unrecognized Bianca in her pursuit to the big break that she has been dreaming of. The film succeeds in portraying the loneliness and disappointments one has to endure in a world where luck matters more than talent.
Pizzi, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, expressed his fascination with Houston. “Rio is organized very differently. It’s nothing like Houston.” Pizzi spoke highly of our city as he was enjoying Houston’s short timeframe of pleasant weather in the first week of May. I decided to bring to Brasil the coffee shop as a joke. We laughed about how there’s nothing Brazilian in the café (though he enjoyed the food) as we talked about Riscado over breakfast.
One of most striking features about Riscado is Pizzi’s use of multiple film stocks and formats— including 16mm, 8mm, HD and video. “It is like a voiceover without voice,” Pizzi said of his use of the different formats. For example, the 8mm images give the audience a glimpse of Bianca’s most personal feelings. In contrast, the big budget music musical sequence of a movie within the movie is carefully framed and shot with the use of six cameras. Pizzi explains, “I would like to think of that sequence as a film made not by me, but by the French director inside the movie.”
I asked Pizzi how was it like to work with his spouse. He said, “Karine is an amazing actress. She’s really talented. She adapts to changes very well and we create together.” Teles, the star and co-writer of the film, was at home in Rio with the couple’s three-and-a-half-month old twins, Francisco and Arthur, while Pizzi was in Houston. Pizzi pointed out in the scene where Bianca sings Happy Birthday, Mr. President in front of a camera in an audition, Teles takes the audience through a whirlwind of emotions in one single shot. “You can see three different women in that one scene, only a really good actress can do this.” Pizzi proclaims. “Some people said it’s easier to play this role because it is close to her real life. That’s not true. When you act in a role that is similar to your life, it forces you to reflect on what’s important to you.” His confidence in her abilities has paid off. Teles won the Best Actress Prize at the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival and Riscado will be playing at the Museum of Modern Art in July.