Not even with a crystal ball Esmir Filho he could predict that the series he started developing two years ago would reach the public in the middle of a pandemic, establishing a kind of macabre coincidence. Word of mouth debuted in streaming on Friday, 17. Last weekend, it reached the top ten of Netflix. A story of young people in a small town. The virus that spreads through kissing.
“In March, when isolation started, I was finishing, adjusting the color of the sixth episode, the ending. The initial idea was to talk – the series is made with Juliana Rojas – about discoveries, desires, experiments. We wanted to portray today’s young world, which is populated by screens. That’s the theme, but then there was the coronavirus and the look on the series was changing. The epidemic became the starting point and what is now seen may be something else – how are the relations after the pandemic. ” Of course, the association with covid-19 is inevitable, but social behavior is standard and adjusts to previous pandemics.
“We researched and identified a procedure. Panic, distrust, discrimination and, because it is a society marked by class differences, there are privileged bodies. We were creating the characters, the situations. Word of mouth establishes a symptomatic picture of social life. ”
All of this was fiction, but it was changed by the perception of the public and the team itself, after the pandemic. According to the synopsis of Netflix, the film is about young people in that community. They lead the so-called normal life, each with their dreams, difficulties, family issues. With hormones running high, they try to vent their affective and sexual needs, and then the virus appears, which spreads through kissing. Although it has the evocative name of Progresso, the city is conservative. Young people have the tools that modern technologies offer – the many screens – but the mentality of the place does not follow this modernity. Shocks are created – between parents and children, among young people, among them.
“The proliferation of networks in Progresso poses this contemporary issue, which is being together without physical contact, which we posed as fiction. We didn’t even imagine that the pandemic would impose that physical distance. The kiss, as an expression of the desired closeness, becomes panic, despair. ” And Esmir reflects: “It is a fable of affection, but affection is not just instinct, to like it or not to like it. It is a construction. We live in a world in which, even before the pandemic, people, and young people, were already encouraged to live separate lives, without collective ideals ”.
Macunaima, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser – each for himself and God against all. “The intention was to launch a magnifying glass on conservatism. In these two years of gestation and completion of the project, conservatism has advanced a lot. It is a global phenomenon and Brazil, which interests us, has gone back decades. All this hatred against blacks, women, gays, trans. ” A very strong theme is that of privileged bodies. Brazil is world champion of inequality. Who can what. “We think it is important to put the topic under discussion.” And Esmir explains: “I am in favor of the body. That we run after our desires, respecting the desires of others. Everyone needs to listen to each other, instead of wanting to keep others silent. Therefore, the series is about physical and emotional transformations of young people and also about parents and the way they relate to their children. It happened to arrive with everyone confined at home, so it is a possibility of understanding. Because, if people live together more and that only generates more friction, things get worse, out of control ”.
It has always been this way in Esmir Filho’s path, this desire to promote generational crossover. It appeared, back in 2006, with a short, signed collectively, that became cult. Tapa na Pantera gave voice to a monster of the theater, Maria Alice Vergueiro, great figure, who narrated to the camera, with total disinhibition, his liberating experience with marijuana. Tapa na Pantera already signaled for this transgressive element, since then associated with Esmir Filho.
The Famous and the Elves of Death already had common elements with Word of mouth – young people, the countryside community, the protagonist, Mr. Tambourine Man – inspired by the song of Bob Dylan – who already used the internet to escape the suffocation of the world. The Goblins of Death he didn’t have the virus, but he already had the germ of intolerance in it, inoculated. Of the six episodes of Word of mouth, Esmir himself made four, the first. Juliana Rojas signs five and six. Since writing there was a concern about where to film. The film is a partnership between Gullane and Esmir’s company with Netflix. The Goblins was filmed in the mountains of Rio Grande do Sul. Word of mouth, in Goiás Velho.
“When I created the city of Progresso, I thought of looking for a city of colonial architecture, it was important to have the history of Brazil emblazoned in the city, and Goiás Velho was indicated to me. So, when I went there, I found it wonderful, the beautiful facades and all the history behind the city, which is very rich, and at the same time has a pulsating youth. I met the young people who live around, because of the university. I saw dance performances in the squares, demonstrations taking place. I realized that it was a city that, while having a history, had a young drive that interested me. ”
Esmir filmed four days in Goiás Velho to make the facades and key scenes of the story. Some viewers familiar with the universe of Cora Coralina they may identify a bridge that appears a lot in related photos and footage. The series uses a psychedelic packaging, works in colors – blue, pink – to create a visual identity. And there’s the cast – Caio Horowicz, Michel Joelsas, Thomas Aquino, Luana Nastas.
Izmir is sensitive to the freshness that youth can bring to his cinema. As he says, “adolescence comes when you cry alone in the silence of your room, you cry not for the other, but for you. The discovery of feelings always carries something painful ”. But Esmir does not neglect the veterans. Denise Fraga, Olivia Byington, Bruno Garcia. This sum of generational techniques and experiences of interpretation contributes to the charm of Word of mouth.