17 September – 11 October, 2020
Laura and Israël are a couple in their mid-thirties who are almost entirely linked to life and each other by their five-year-old son, Lucas. As the days go by, they fulfil their roles as partners, parents and adults in contemporary Brazil. But is there a way out of alienation?
An introduction from filmmaker Maria Clara Escobar
Divided into three acts, Desterro is at once a film with and without a narrative. We witness the characters going about their lives, fulfilling concrete actions, and yet we are left without the sense that these actions lead into particular results. Laura and Israël have breakfast together, throw an anniversary party for their son, Laura visits her family and sees a friend. Described as such, the course of action in the film is as mundane as daily life itself can be. The excellence of Maria Clara Escobar’s first fiction feature, though, lies especially in its capacity to translate into cinema the uncanny feeling of life leading into stagnation.
As free and as assertive as a poem can be, the film unfolds its chapters in the narrative order of 1, 3, 2. Its tone, however, follows a linear crescendo of intensity and darkness: we follow Israël dealing with an abrupt loss whilst delivering what is expected of his role as an adult, just as we follow Laura’s struggle with being who she is supposed to be in society—and her way of breaking free from it. Throughout, the topics of class, race, modern life bureaucracy and the role of women in society are tackled. Everything is politics.
Blessed with solid and impactful interpretations from its actors, Desterro inhabits a physicality that is almost always quiet, powerful and contained, but what’s more, it is hinting at imminent change, at imminent rage. As Brazil descends into the unknown in real life, so does the family in this fictional plot. Exile can also be a state of mind—and setting fire to it might be the only way out. —Ana David
Maria Clara Escobar wrote and directed the feature film “Desterro”, her
first fiction, selected for the Tiger Awards Competition at the 49th
Rotterdam International Film Festival. Before, she directed “The Days
with Him”, documentary feature film awarded in festivals like Tiradentes
(Brazil), DocLisboa (Portugal), or Cachoeira.Doc (Brazil), and
presented in in venues like IBAFF – Murcia International Film Festival
(Spain), Directors Week (Brazil), or the International Festival of Nuevo
Habana Latin American Cine (Cuba). The film was commercially released
in 18 cities in Brazil in April 2014 and released on DVD by Instituto
Maria Clara also wrote and directed two short films, wrote the
screenplay and was the assistant director of Julia Murat’s “Found
Memories”. This film had its premiere at the Venice Film Festival and
has won over 30 awards, having participated in over 40 festivals.
She recently worked in casting in two Berlinale’17 films: “Joaquim” by
Marcelo Gomes (International Competition) and “Pendular” by Julia Murat
(Panorama, where it won the Fipresci Award).
In 2019 Maria Clara released her first book of poems “Medo, Medo, Medo”.
The Days with Him (Documentary, 2014)
Desterro (Feature Fiction, 2020)
Maria Clara Escobar
Production CountriesArgentina Brazil Portugal