Father's Chair | A Busca

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Theo is living the good life in an upscale Brazilian neighbourhood. He’s a hardworking doctor, husband and father. However, Theo has chosen his career over his family, and little by little he discovers that his world is crumbling around him. Yet nothing prepares him for the day when he comes home to discover his 15-year-old son, Pedro, has disappeared. Theo takes to the road in search of his son. In a journey that leads him throughout Brazil, Theo discovers what really matters to him. Searching for his missing son, Theo finds himself.

Father’s Chair takes us on a road trip into the depths of humanity as director Luciano Moura digs into the complex, at times exquisite, and often emotionally challenging relationship between parents and children that can define our destiny.

Screens with: The Tuner, Brazil, Dir. Fernando Camargo & Matheus Parizi
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Luciano Moura is a still photographer as well as a director. FATHER’S CHAIR (A CADEIRA DO PAI) is his feature debut. Moura’s 1992 short film, OS MORADORES DA RUA HUMBOLDT (THE RESIDENTS OF HUMBOLDT STREET), garnered numerous honors, including awards for best short film at Havana, Carthage, Brasilia, and RioCine; and the Jury Prize at Uppsala. Humboldt received further recognition at festivals in New York, St. Paul, Minnesota, and Guarnicê, Brazil. Moura codirected TODOS OS CORAÇÕES DO MUNDO (TWO BILLION HEARTS), the official FIFA film of the 1994 World Cup.
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Nominated – 2012 Sundance Film Festival: Grand Jury Prize – World Cinema – Dramatic
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Nikhil Taneja completed series of interviews with directors whose films featured at the 2012 Mumbai Film Festival. Here is his interview with Luciano Moura, director of Father’s Chair.
Luciano Moura is a Brazilian film director, based in Rio de Janeiro. He has worked on many Brazilian TV shows and commercials, and his short film, The Residents of Humboldt Streetdid the rounds of film festivals around the world and won many awards. His debut movie,Father’s Chair, produced by Oscar-nominated director of City of God, Fernando Meirelles and stars Brazil’s biggest star, Wagner Moura, who is slated to play the villain opposite Matt Damon in Neil Blomkamp’s Elysium.
Father’s Chair premiered internationally at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and in India at the Mumbai Film Festival. It’s the story of a man, who has a difficult relationship with his family, going on the road to look for his missing son. In his interview, Luciano talks about the tricky relationships between fathers and sons, working with Fernando Meirelles and Wagner Moura, and the challenges the Brazilian film industry faces.
Your movie revolves around the relationship between a father and a son. Did the story come out of your relationship with your father or your son?
Luciano Moura (LM): (Laughs) It came from my relationship with my son. When you see the movie and if you have a son, you’d understand what I’m talking about (laughs). I mean, like all fathers, I’m very afraid of letting my son go and live his own life. I want to be there for him forever and it’s really hard to avoid the fact that he’s growing up. It’s a difficult situation, but I have to deal with it. In general, we try very hard to avoid certain moments in life and try to put them off for as long as possible. We try to control our life but life doesn’t work like that (chuckles). The movie was my way of exploring this relationship.
In the movie, Wagner’s character, Theo, has put his career before everything else. His family and his relationship with his son are falling apart, and he reacts very badly to these problems, and tries to control them. And one day, his son goes missing. Then, he has no choice but to deal with this. So he goes on the road to find his son, but he discovers another boy in place of his son – the son he never knew he had. At the same time, he also starts discovering himself, and realises that we can’t change life the way we want to… we have to change ourselves instead.
What’s your relationship with your son like, and how has it made its way into the movie?

Luciano Moura. Image courtesy Elena Soarez
LM:  (Chuckles) My son is about 15 years old now, but when I started to write this story, he was about 10. I didn’t know this feeling so well at the time but I was still afraid of it. That’s because I think relationships are important everywhere in the world but the first two relationships you ever have as a child – with your father and your mother – they define you as a person. Those relationships change your life and are the most wonderful and important relationships, but also the hardest to let go off.
I mean, personally, even after he’s grown up, I don’t have a bad relationship with my son, but it’s always difficult to understand how to go about it. You have to deal with a lot of responsibility as you grow up and raise children, as you try and understand what’s the right way to go about things, what are the wrong ways to avoid. And the thing is, nothing works (laughs). Things always keep changing and you just have to go along with them and discover on your own how to go about them. You just have to (laughs) pray, and hope that you are pointing your children towards a good way but the fact is, you can’t ever be sure what the good way is (chuckles)! This is how I feel about raising my son and I made the movie to talk about this.
What did your son think of the movie?
LM: He was fine with it (laughs). He liked it because he knows that it was based on him, or at least inspired by him, because in his case, he thankfully didn’t run away (chuckles). So I think he’s kind of proud of his father at the moment.
You’ve made a documentary before, and you’ve also directed many commercials. Was a feature film a natural transition?
LM: Yes, in fact, I always wanted to do a feature film. And after my short film, The Residents of Humboldt Street, travelled the world and won awards, I thought of getting into features. But Brazil was hit by a huge financial crisis at the time, and I had to postpone my plans. When I finally started making my movie, all my experience came in handy. The good thing about shooting a commercial is that you only shoot two times a week or six-seven times a month, so you have to prepare a lot for the shoot. You have to know the equipment, know the actor and know how to direct a set. Because there’s a sense of urgency, you become very fast. That’s helped me in making a movie.
The biggest difference in the two mediums is.. (chuckles) there’s a lot more people. They are many more people and big sets and lots more work. I mean, we had only six weeks of shooting and we had to cover 38 locations. To do that in that much time, and still telling the story in exactly the way you have planned it, you need to have done most of the planning before the shoot. And on the shoot, you just shoot objectively. You cannot have doubts when you are on the set. So preparation helps in shooting precisely what you want and also in cutting costs.
What’s next for you? Do you plan to continue doing films in Brazil or are you Hollywood bound?
LM: I do have an American project in the development stages. It’s based on a book, ‘The Boy Who Fell Out Of The Sky’. We are still trying to flesh it out so I’m not sure when it’s going to happen. But I do have scripts that I’m trying to make in Brazil also. Another thing that I’m looking to do is Brazilian TV since it’s really getting stronger every year, and has much more funding and better production values than before.
If I do go to America, I don’t want to go there just to do a regular film and make a film to make a film, because then my movie will also look like a copy of any other American film. If I direct a film there it would have to be to my liking and my style. And (chuckles) that’s always difficult. But Hollywood can wait… I have a lot of great options to do something more serious in Brazil too.