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NYC Film Festivals

Barbosa's Salt Kiss Charms NYFF

The Reeler caught up this week with Fellipe Gamarano Barbosa, whom we last saw in January squiring his short film La Muerte es Pequena around Sundance. This time around, Barbosa is back in the city with another short, Salt Kiss, screening tonight at the New York Film Festival. Some guys have all the luck.

Or maybe not "luck," per se: Salt Kiss is a riveting, smoldering burst of fraternal love found and lost among old friends reacquainted on an island near Rio de Janeiro. As the aging ladies man Rogerio (Rogerio Trinidade) appraises the distance between himself and his engaged pal (Domingos Alcantara), his aggrieved clinging devastates the paradise around them. Their connection -- like that of the vanquished buddies in the recent Old Joy -- is irreparable; yet unlike Old Joy, with its spatial thematic overkill, Salt Kiss addresses a very specific anguish bordering on sociopathy. For all of his humor and languor, Rogerio really is a bit scary.

"My concerns in Salt Kiss are very much in a naturalistic line and working with real people instead of professional actors," Barbosa told me, adding that he had known Trinidade personally prior to shooting. "He was so magnetic, and I always thought he could be the main character in a movie. The film was really an attempt to dramatize him. I plotted it to decide what I thought were the deepest complexities in this human being. That's the kind of work that interests me at this moment; it's what really turns me on."

So far, audiences are taking to it as well. Salt Kiss was funded by the winnings from the James Bridges Development Award that Barbosa earned at Columbia University for his work with actors, subsequently claiming the Columbia Film Festival's Student Choice prize last spring. Prior to its NYFF selection, the film drew praise in the director's native Brazil, where it screened at festivals in Rio, Sao Paolo and Gramado.

Barbosa said he intends to continue working in Brazil, hoping to spark life into a staid film culture dominated by biopics and other conventional work. "It's a very immature way of looking at things, and by nature, they don't seem to converge with the interests of the country," he said. "If you take a look at Argentinian cinema, it's a much more mature cinema. It's not so concerned with making movies about Argentinian figures, and it ends up being so much more political in terms of how much it's pushing its language and how much it's rethinking its stories. One way or another, it's externalizing a state of mind of the Argentinian people right now, and ends up being much more political because of that.

"As long as you tell something from your heart --tell a story that's personal to you, that comes from a place you know and that's dear to you -- it's going to belong to your country. It's going to be relevant."

Posted at October 12, 2006 10:02 AM

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