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Leonardo Mouramateus • Director of Antonio One Two Three

“I don’t even remember what image I had of my films before making them”

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- Two years after its first screening, in Rotterdam, Leonardo Mouramateus’ Antonio One Two Three premieres where it all began, in Lisbon; we chatted to him about the movie

Leonardo Mouramateus  • Director of Antonio One Two Three

Leonardo Mouramateus’ first feature, the Portuguese-Brazilian Antonio One Two Three [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Leonardo Mouramateus
film profile
]
, tells the story of António (Mauro Soares) in three different dimensions, as he occupies three different roles. Not only does the film talk about a young man who walks around Lisbon and (re)connects with friends and strangers, at the same time dealing with (un)employment; most importantly, it’s a movie about human relationships, and the mystery and fantasy that always surrounds a true love story. Cineuropa talked to the director about his development process and the Portuguese premiere, which has just taken place, courtesy of Filmes do Asfalto.

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Cineuropa: Antonio One Two Three was a project you started when you arrived in Lisbon. How did it all begin?
Leonardo Mouramateus: Antonio One Two Three doesn’t have an exact starting point. I gather details, images, and stories of things that happen in my life and in my team’s life, and I start shaping something that, especially as the film is being made, becomes more and more visible. In this case, I didn’t exactly want to make a feature film (it could have been a series of movies), but I knew it had to have one character in different episodes. And I liked the idea that those episodes didn’t have much of a connection to each other.

I felt a lot of connections between those episodes. There’s this feeling that you take something and then you transform it – but always maintaining a harmonious tone.
That happened afterwards. I met [producer] Miguel Ribeiro and told him that it had to be a boy, in a room, who maybe walked around the city. That was it. Since there was a minimal budget, I also had the idea of making the film bit by bit. Afterwards, I met Mauro, and his physical presence, his charisma and his image changed the whole movie. When we decided to go on with this project, every person who came in and joined the team immediately influenced the creation of it. First, we thought about making short films, but then, we realised that it would be much stronger if it were shown as a whole. In the beginning, I may have had certain images as references. I work with storyboards more than with scripts. But it’s when we rehearsed that the whole thing was transformed. I don’t even remember what image I had of my films before making them. For me, after the movie is finished, it is the same movie that it always was.

A lot of reviews talk about Lisbon as one of the main characters, but I don’t see this in your film. What’s your take on it?
We hear that all the time. There was a radio host who talked about how most films that portray Lisbon have the same landscapes. We filmed places that are a bit odd or that show more than the usual picture postcards. I think it had to do with a feeling of “Oh, this is the street I pass every day.” There is one street that we fell in love with – and we even filmed it three times: Rua Damasceno Monteiro. There’s a specific point along that road that we filmed because it’s beautiful, and I found it one day while I was walking to Latoaria. And that was a real picture postcard for me.

These are not very usual filming locations. Nobody starts a film in Odivelas, in the suburbs of Lisbon.
That also has to do with production, with the resources we had available. We filmed in our friend’s flats. More than any film director, actor João Fiadeiro [who plays António’s father] inspires me with his creative process. It has a direct connection with what I do: the idea of working with what you have.

Maybe owing to your creative process, you have created quite a humanistic film that is not just about young people or artists; it’s about human lives and relationships. What did you want to say with this movie?
I will never be able to answer that before making a film. That is the question I always raise myself. The film is not just one point of view; it’s an invitation. It’s not exactly a proposal to the world; it’s about what I want for my life.

The film dates from 2017; we are now in 2019 and it is being premiered in national cinemas. How was the distribution process?
We were quite lucky in terms of festivals. We wish we had premiered it earlier in Portugal. It premiered in Brazil in March, and now we’re here. That’s a big victory, since it’s extremely difficult to distribute films of this size – with a low budget and with radical visions – here. It’s a moment of crisis in terms of distribution. But I’m really happy with the idea that, by the end of the year, the movie will be available on streaming services because it’s a film we made to show to the public.

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