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Karim Aïnouz’s superb new film, Futuro Beach, is a stunning drama about a hunky Brazilian lifeguard, Donato (Wagner Moura) who bonds — both emotionally and in the naked, physical sense — with Konrad (Clemens Schick), who is grieving over the loss of a drowned friend. After Donato visits Konrad in Germany, their relationship deepens and changes. Things change even more when Ayrton (Jesuita Barboso), Donato’s younger brother, takes over the narrative in the film’s third act. Aïnouz’s deliberately elliptical style of storytelling captures the ebb and flow of its characters’ erotic and emotional currents, which makes the film hypnotic so mesmerizing.

Out Front spoke with Aïnouz via Skype about his film.

What prompted you to tell this story?

I wanted to talk about sexual diaspora, and how it triggers other things. Donato decides to leave everything behind. I come from a generation where lots of friends left where they came from to be who they really were. I wanted to show the consequences of that, to depict this impulse of reinvention, especially when it’s more of an existential feeling.

Why did you take the approach you did to the story, where viewers are forced to fill in the blanks?

Donato is a [lifeguard] who’s sitting in his tower, waiting for something to happen. And 98 percent of the time, nothing happens. He’s constantly watching the horizon and wondering what’s behind it. I flirt with the adventure-novel narrative and create chapters, like in a book, so there is a lot of drama.

When I started to make this film, it was my wish to take risks like the characters take risks. Sometimes contemporary narratives tell you everything. I thought you should fill in the blanks so you have to answer the question: Why does he do that? I had to build an ellipsis because cinema can’t answer that. Predictability is the most unsexy thing in the world. I wanted to do something with range. The construction was to avoid predictability, and keep surprise. The adventure narrative was important — you don’t know where you are being taken. It’s thrilling.


What can you say about the elements in the
film — earth and water — that reflect and represent the characters? 

I thought of Donato as a lonely character who is in his element in the water; he is floating alone. But for him, the sea is also a frontier, a border. With Konrad, it is speed and danger; he is earth. Konrad is always at the edge.

What can you say about the bodies of men in the film — naked, exercising, f*cking, etc.? You film them very artfully.

I wanted to show how we relate to one another in a physical way. The physical experience as a primary experience, not psychological affection. Many relationships are so physical; they’re not about talking. The affection is displayed physically. It was important to go very extreme.

I wanted to do a hyper-masculine movie after my earlier films, Madame Sata and Suely in the Sky (aka Love for Sale). Here, I wanted to enter a different space — one of physical strength and bodies. How do you portray masculinity and masculine sensibility in contemporary cinema? There were female characters in the film, but I cut them out in editing. How do we get that masculine sensation? I wanted it to be hypnotic. The film presents a family of men with shifting roles. I don’t know who is playing what role, but there was an affection between those men.

How did you work with the actors on their roles?

Clements comes from the art world and he has done theater, but has made only a few films. Wagner has been a successful actor in Brazil, and Jesuita was very fresh, very young. I chose them because of those things — their energy and their faces. We spent 10–14 days rehearsing, but not doing scene rehearsals. We used the action of the scenes — not the dialogue — so they could recognize the space. It was like a dance rehearsal, not a theater rehearsal; they came to know the physical triggers, and not the psychological ones. The actors therefore could find the intimacy when we started shooting. There were not many lines of dialogue. The actors remember their lines because they remembered the situation of the scene, the intimacy.

Futuro Beach opens Friday, March 27, exclusively at the Sie FilmCenter.