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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Portugal / Brazil

António Ferreira’s A Bela América enters post-production


- The director’s fourth feature-length film, a Portuguese-Brazilian co-production, is a tragicomedy about love and social inequality

António Ferreira’s A Bela América enters post-production
Estevão Antunes and Custódia Gallego in A Bela América

António Ferreira, the director of Embargo, Breathing Under Water and The Dead Queen [+see also:
film review
film profile
, finished shooting his latest project, A Bela América, in late December. The film, now in post-production, is a story about Lucas (Estevão Antunes), a talented cook who has had a difficult upbringing and a life marked by financial, social and emotional family struggles, who falls in love with América (São José Correia), a TV host and also a presidential candidate. His passion pushes him to strive not only for a better life, but also for a connection with América, using his cooking abilities to impress her, secretly sneaking in grandiose dishes for her to enjoy.

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Ferreira’s intentions go beyond portraying a simple love story: it’s a tale about social inequality, ambition and family bonds, marked by a dark ambiance, filled with suspense, and with small, ironic details and unexpected moments. According to the director’s notes, “A Bela América is a sad comedy,” in which he presents the audience with “a dilemma: to what extent is it in our hands to shape the destiny that has been sketched out for us from the moment we were born?” The director also notes how, nowadays, “we live with the anguish of not doing everything that could possibly be done”, and if we don’t succeed, a sense of guilt prevails, “without us realising that we are our own oppressor, always hoping that one day we can free ourselves from the limited world we live in, thanks to all the work we’ve done”.

In this feature, there are two characters that symbolise two different universes: Lucas (as well as his family) represents the vast majority “with dreams to fulfil; the working class that sustains the base of the social pyramid” without a chance to speak out. América, on the other hand, represents the universe of the “winners”, who might feel a certain “compassion of the privileged”. Nonetheless, the gap between both worlds never seems to be crossed or bridged. For Ferreira, this film is an attempt to “cross the boundary that divides” these two universes: “Lucas and his family,” people who are exploited in this “uberised, meritocratic society”, and América’s “exuberant, fearless, sheltered” life.

A Bela América was written by Ferreira and César Santos Silva. It stars Estêvão Antunes, São José Correia, Custódia Gallego and Carlos Areia, as well as local actors such as Daniela Claro and João Castro Gomes. The film is being produced by Tathiani Sacilotto (one of EFP’s 2021 Producers on the Move, from Portugal’s Persona Non Grata Pictures – see the interview), in co-production with Refinaria Filmes (Brazil). The project was first developed at EAVE Puentes and has secured the support of the Ibermedia programme. A Bela América was shot in the city of Coimbra, in various different stages, with Paulo Castilho responsible for the film’s cinematography and with Luísa Bebiano serving as the production designer.

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