“I belong to the younger generation of filmmakers in Brazil. Our films have been recognised in all the major film festivals overseas. I’m also a part of the young women’s generation fighting for gender equality,” says the Brazilian director Beatriz Seigner. Her Los Silencios (2018) premiered at Cannes, and will play at the 49th International Film Festival of India today at 10am at INOX Screen II.

She told The Peacock her story tracks “a Colombian mother with two kids, who travels to Brazil to find out that the father of her children is living on an island filled with ghosts.” Seigner wrote the script based on a story told by her childhood friend. To research further, she interviewed over 80 families who live on the border between Brazil and Colombia. Los Silencios takes place on an island in the Amazonian rainforest that appeared 20 years ago, remains submerged for four months of the year, and boasts of no infrastructure. It is not affiliated to any particular country’s government, and is inhabited by people from all over the region – Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador.

“They say that my films are very international,” says Seigner, “My first film O Sonho Bollywoodiano (2009) was shot here in India, and was the first Brazilian-Indian co-production.”Earlier, when she was just 18 years old, Beatriz lived in Odisha and studied classical dance fromthe legendary exponsent of Odissi dance, Kelucharan Mohapatra. Is she excited to be back in India, this time in Goa? “It’s lovely here,” she smiles.

Brazil has been constantly in the news all over the world, as the hard-right Rio de Janeiro congressman Jair Bolsonaro won one of the most controversial, and politically-heated elections in the history of the giant South American country.

Seigner is very apprehensive about the change in leadership which, she fears, is not in favour of the arts, and potentially puts the film industry in danger. She says, “Right now, the film industry in Brazil is watching and waiting, because we really don’t know what’s going to happen. What we are passing through right now with the government is very scary. They are racist and misogynist, and we might lose our freedom of speech.”

The outspoken female director also says, “We are still very much patriarchal in Brazil”. But that’s where the #MeToo movement has made an impact, especially in famous circles, “People are now more afraid of doing something, because they know their actions will have repercussions. It’s very good but it is not enough. We still have to fight for more opportunities for women to be in charge, to be in positions where they can be creative, have access to funds, and be in charge of their own work.”

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