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Eduardo Mattos: What leads people to rely on fake news?

The interview series continues with the author Eduardo Mattos, who will introduce us to his fresh short film "The Sink" in more detail. The film will have its world premiere in September.

Vado, the main character, jokes that he takes a sip from Plínio Marcos' sink every morning, which is why he has a head full of ideas. People believe this joke and offer considerable money for a sip of ordinary water. Does the film develop a discussion about the truth of the information?

Definitely. Since the beginning of the project, this was a present-time concern that we wanted to approach. Brazil has been facing significant challenges related to the spread of misinformation, ranging from public health to social unrest, with social media playing a crucial role in this phenomenon. Nonetheless, fake news in social media is a global issue that transcends national borders, which can make “The Sink” an engaging story for the general public.

We had one particular question in mind: what leads people to rely on fake news? The film does not intend to provide a definitive answer to this question. However, it seeks to contribute to the necessary development of such discussions.

Editor's Note: According to statistics from May 2023, approximately 15% of people in Brazil believe in conspiracies. In Slovakia, it's around 30%.

What inspired the creation of The Sink?

It all started in one of the regular meetings with scriptwriter Valdir Medori and the actor Ygor Fiori, who plays Vado. We already worked together in my previous film “Do You Like Poetry?”, and were brainstorming about our next project. You know how it goes: a waterfall of ideas, impossible to put into practice.

Valdir lives at Copan, one of the most remarkable buildings in São Paulo, making that place a possible location. It happens that Plinio Marcos also lived at Copan in the 90s. So yes, it’s true that he lived there! Continuing, at some point, Valdir told us about the time he was having a creative blockage and took a sip of the water from the sink, looking for inspiration. As I heard it, I said: That’s our story! And then, starting from this premise, Valdir wrote the script.


Why did you choose the character of Plínio Marcos for the story? What is the significance of Plínio Marcos in Brazilian culture?

Plínio Marcos' own biography is intertwined with the script of "The Sink". Not only because he lived in the Copan building, where the characters live, but also because of the difficulties in producing his plays – given the persecution of the military dictatorship from the 1960s to 1980s in Brazil. In addition, his texts took the voice of marginalized people out of anonymity in Brazilian society at the time. Few have written about homosexuality, marginality, prostitution, and violence with such authenticity. Despite censorship and persecution, Plínio Marcos never agreed to give up his ideological and aesthetic choices.

Although he is an icon, I regret to say that Plínio Marcos's theater is not a trending topic on social media nowadays. He is an author of a niche, known mainly by experts. So, using his legacy as a common thread in the story of "The Sink", in a humorous manner, is a way of breaking this bubble and reaching a much wider audience.

How did you develop the characters in your short film and what makes them interesting to the audience?

I did intense preparation with the actors during pre-production. I like to help the actors to feel at ease at the shooting. During the rehearsals, we worked together on their backstories and did a lot of improvisation. A lot of the characters' behaviour came from there.

The two main characters, a somewhat bankrupt playwright and a trans actress, could go unnoticed through the endless corridors of the Copan, with its more than a thousand apartments. At Copan reside people of all social classes, occupations, and styles. It's a believable reality, these two living there.

The dynamism of the film flowed from the story. The visual aspect consisted of longer shots, without color. Why did you decide to use this approach?

Since I read the script, I knew it would be a challenge shooting the film due to its many dialogues. My previous movies were very silent, and I always relied on visual storytelling, given my background in cinematography. In this short though, working with the actors was an opportunity for me, which I have always been fascinated about.

Working with the cinematographer Luiz Egidio and the art director Fernanda Figueiredo, we came upon a monochromatic and claustrophobic approach to the visuals. The contrasting dynamics between the two confined characters create tension that grows throughout the film. The characters are always within reach of each other, and the camera is close to them. We also considered the B&W cinematography as a basis when choosing the costume and set design.

"The Sink" takes place in three locations, if I counted correctly. Compared to your other films, was it a less demanding project? How long did the pre-production of the film take?

It was, in fact, as demanding as my other films. Every film requires a different approach to pre-production. This time, I spent more time preparing the actors than scouting, for instance. "The Sink" was shot in two apartments at Copan and a bar. Having already the locations fixed, made the production a bit easier. But when working with a low budget, a solid pre-production is needed.

The film was shot entirely during the day, so we depended on the natural light from the large windows. That means we were shooting on a very tight schedule. Everyone needed to be well-prepared to shoot all the scenes for the day. We had tech scouts with the main crew, and I also did several rehearsals with the cast.

In September 2022, I started working remotely on the pre-production from Germany, with the producer Ivan 13P based in São Paulo. We moved forward as I arrived in Brazil, and worked during December and January. We shot the film in four days at the end of January, so it takes around four months of pre-production.

When you look back, is there something you would do differently now - improve upon?

Yes, of course, there is always room for improvement, but the film came out very close to my original idea.

You have already filmed several movies with actors and crew members. Where did you meet them?

Before moving to Berlin in 2015, I worked as a DOP for many years in São Paulo. That allowed me to meet a lot of people working in the field. I met Valdir at the film school, and the producer Ivan 13P during the same period. I have known these guys for a long time, and we’ve worked on several projects together. It is important to me to have a strong connection with the cast and crew, and it is something you develop over time.

One part of the crew worked with me on my previous film ‘Do You Like Poetry?”. Ygor Fiori brought Tuna Dwek and Francisco Gaspar to the project. They have a renowned career in film. Fernando Haro is my cousin, and we worked together many times before. Carla Gobbi is Valdir's wife. Francisco Gaspar reffered Bianca Santos to the main character. It was the first time we worked together, and I was impressed by her performance since it was her first film.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working with Valdir and Ygor on a feature film project. We're currently writing the script and expecting to have it done by the end of the year. It’s in the very beginning, so I won't reveal too much about it, but we plan to shoot it in Brazil again.

Thank you, Eduardo, for the interview, and we wish you the best of luck with the film's public release.

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