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Tathiani Sacilotto • Producer, Persona Non Grata Pictures

“It’s crucial to have those dreams and make them come true”


- The Brazil-born producer discusses the Portuguese film industry and the ambitions of her production company

Tathiani Sacilotto • Producer, Persona Non Grata Pictures

A partner in Persona Non Grata Pictures, Tathiani Sacilotto produced António Ferreira's 2018 box-office hit The Dead Queen [+see also:
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, and was a co-producer on Edgar Pêra's Magnetick Pathways and Ivan Mora Manzano's Yellow Sunglasses. Tathiani Sacilotto represents Portugal at the EFP’s Producers on the Move for 2021.

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Cineuropa: Diversity seems to be the motto of Persona Non-Grata Pictures, with a strong emphasis on co-productions. What drives you to create these kinds of synergies?
Tathiani Sacilotto:
I think it has a lot to do with my own personal story. Coming from Brazil to Portugal, wanting to get to know other kinds of cinemas, whilst already knowing some and trying to understand how I would be able to do these co-productions. I think it also has something to do with curiosity: wanting to know how things work in other countries, thinking about how you can bring talents here or take them abroad. It’s really stimulating and exciting to see that actually happening. A film starts with an idea… it’s almost like working with dreams, right? We dream about how great it would be to make a film with France, and then it happens. It’s crucial to have those dreams and make them come true. To have those films at the cinemas, in other territories. It’s truly rewarding. I think that’s why we started doing it: we’re always looking for different and diversified projects.

You mentioned France, one of the countries involved with The Dead Queen, the most watched Portuguese film in 2018. What can be the key to commercial success in the Portuguese market?
We were almost giving up on that project, because there is only one financing source in Portugal and the juries can be a bit more biased towards auteur projects. We had this project with Rosa Lobato Faria (a rather famous writer) and António wanted to speak in a more popular language, whilst also having an auteur tone. It’s a hybrid piece that managed to combine both worlds. When we were just about to give up, we were quite lucky with the jury, who wanted to see something different. After that, I managed to get a co-production with France, then with Brazil. When the film premiered there, the audience loved it. Even though it’s a super dramatic, heavy, 2-hour film, we had great feedback. I think you can make a different kind of cinema in Portugal, one which the audience identifies with, without losing quality. I have nothing against comedies or other films, but the ones that I really enjoy are definitely hybrid. I go to the cinema, I’m moved by the film, I have fun, plus I know that it’s an oeuvre and not just a product. I personally find it hard to identify myself with some of the cinema that is being made here. However, there is a new generation of directors with really good projects who want to talk about different things.

What projects are you working on right now?
Now, we’re focused on America, a project we’re shooting here, in Coimbra. We have this thing of being quite persistent and wanting to do things in Coimbra. I think it’s important to work in areas besides Lisbon. I’m from São Paulo and I remember quite vividly the cinematography from Paraíba and Recife. I think Portugal can’t be all about Lisbon. There are other voices in Porto and in other areas that complement each other. That’s what we’re doing: we’re bringing America here, to show a different side of Portugal that is not just picturesque. A country that can also be interesting and can travel. In March, we plan to shoot Dreaming of Lions, by Paolo Marinou Blanco, which will be sent to the Venice Gap - Financing Market, to see if we can get the residual financing we need for the project. We also have a co-production with Argentina, a feature film by Mara Pescio (That Weekend), currently in post-production. Finally, our new ‘crush’ is Arménio, a project that I believe will be gut-wrenching, about a veteran. It will also be filmed here, in the centre of Portugal.

What are your expectations from Producers on the Move?
I think it’s important to stay focused: my focus is to keep working from here to the rest of the world. I want to check things out with other producers, know what they’re doing and what they’re thinking. On the one hand, it is quite a gratifying exchange, to not only receive but also give something in return. They also want to know how things work in Portugal. I think we're trendy right now, which can be quite beneficial to our cinema. I’ve been to other events and I just want to keep learning with Producers on the Move. I’m sure it will be an amazing network, and that it will be very important for our production company.

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