Alê Abreu Talks Boy and the World from Gkids

Boy and the World, the hand-drawn Brazilian festival fave from Alê Abreu, unfolds like a sumptuous tapestry for a small stick figure of a boy, who experiences an exciting yet difficult rite of passage. At the same time, Abreu offers a devastating political critique as the boy travels from the simple line drawings of his village to bushels of cotton-lined country roads to industrial landscapes filled with animal-machines, whirling carnival colors, exploding fireworks and flashing neon adverts. All of this accompanied by pan-flute, samba and Brazilian hip-hop. The visceral impact is startling for this Gkids Oscar contender.

Bill Desowitz: Talk about how this began as a documentary, Canto Latino, about the formation of South America and how you inserted the boy into it.

Alê Abreu: I was doing research into the development of an animadoc (an animated documentary) about the early history of Latin America. And one day in one of my notebooks I found  this character I had drawn on a previous occasion.  It wasn’t the just something in the character that attracted me, rather it was the very simple, scribbled  almost “urgent” way in which he was drawn. There was a spirit there which captured the essence of the Canto Latino project in one image. I felt as if the boy were waving at me, calling me to discover his story. I put aside Canto Latino to find Boy and the World.

BD: You drew in the spirit of a child with various patterns, bright colors and different techniques. Tell us more about your use of different paints, pens and pencils and the use of newspaper and magazine collage.

AA: The idea was to start with a completely blank sheet of paper. A metaphysical void, I would say . Where we had come from and where we were going. This child emerges into this space, a garden full of colors and organic textures. And as he starts walking toward a knowledge of the things of this world built by men, the collage of newspaper and magazine clippings begins covering over this white, luminous and sacred space.

BD: You’ve said this was like a game. How so?

AA: You’re referring to the way in which the film was created, right? Yes, it was like a game, in the sense that I made a film practically without a screenplay, working directly from my sensations which I then transformed into small movie segments. I then tried to somehow connect these segments in a search for some larger meaning. In this way I began to discover the characters and their connections. I believe that many of these discoveries surprised me in the same way it surprises some viewers at certain moments in the film.

BD: What was the significance of the theme of Latin American colonization and how it relates to the boy and his journey?

AA: I think the boy represents in a certain way the “childhood” of these countries. The theme of the loss of a father and the search for a father is a recurrent one in Latin American cinema — the father as fatherland. I asked myself during my research for Canto Latino, how these Latin American countries, born as exploited colonies with such difficult “childhoods,” and marked by military dictatorships that served specific economic interests, had arrived at today’s globalized world.

BD: And how did you develop this visually as a metaphor for the boy?

AA: I think that above all the Canto Latino project provided me with a background, this historical overview through which I could then have the boy circulate and discover his own story. This child’s eyes were fundamental to the whole visual universe we created. Everything went through the boy. I tried to bring out more primitive elements in my drawing, inspired by the freedom of children when they draw. It was always a boy facing the world.

Read the rest at Animation Scoop/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Below the Line, Crafts, Movies, Tech, Trailers

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