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Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #31: Anna Muylaert Questions Social Convention in ‘The Second Mother’

Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #31: Anna Muylaert Questions Social Convention in 'The Second Mother'

The Second Mother” tells the story of Val (Regina Casé), a live-in housekeeper for a wealthy Sao Paolo family. Her carefully balanced world gets completely upended when her daughter Jessica comes to stay for the summer — which gives filmmaker Anna Muylaert ample opportunity to question issues of class, gender, and convention.

What’s your film about, in 140 characters or less?

Who is allowed into the sitting-room. Who shouldn’t put a foot outside the kitchen. Who’s authorized to open the refrigerator door. Who shouldn’t touch the ice-cream. Who’s allowed to sit at the dinner table. Who can’t go near the swimming pool. Who can hug the kids. Who is not to be called mother. “The Second Mother” is a film about how the set of social rules that has been in place in Brazilian culture since colonial times, still affect the architecture of our affections to this very day.  

Now, what’s it REALLY about?

I think that “The Second Mother” has many levels of comprehension and takes to many diferent discussions, from big national problems to the smallest domestic issues, but the central theme, that perpasses every scene is, no question, education. Formal education, non-formal education, social education, real education, given education, not giving education, kid’s education, mother’s education, sentimental education, heart education. In the end, it’s a film about love.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I am a 50 year-old being, who has chosen to stay in the position of an apprentice as long as I can. I am a compulsive writter and photographer; a passionate person for the good and for the bad. I love Reese’s; I am a mother who tries to listen to her son’s wills and opinions (maybe more than I should!). I am a Brazilian who loves music, but doesn’t love carnival or soccer. I live in a chauvinist country, but I am a woman who doesn’t feel worse than man. I am a filmmaker that takes films as if they were music. I am a screenwritter that loves engineering. I am a pain in the ass; I might be funny. I dont talk much. I Iove nature. I’m totally in love with my boyfriend. My idol is Sigmund Freud, my favorite book is “Tao Te King,” by Lao Tsé, and my favorite film ever is “A Clockwork Orange” — and in my next life, I want to be born as a bass player.

What was the biggest challenge in completing this film?

Cutting off so many beautiful scenes in order to give the film the proper form and length. Finding the right songs. Working for months with no bugdet.

What do you want Sundance audience to take away from your film? 

I don’t know this answer. I really don’t know. I would love if we surprise each other.   

Are there any films that inspired you?

“A Clockwork Orange,” by Stanley Kubrick,  “Django Unchained,” by Quentin Tarantino, “The Elephant,” by Gus Van Sant, “The Royal Tenenbaums,” by Wes Anderson, “Match Point,” by Woody Allen, “O Som ao Redor,” by Kleber Mendonca Filho (Brasil). “Baixio das Bestas,” by Claudio Assis (Brasil), “Whisky,” by Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll, “Uruguai La Cienaga,” by Lucrecia Martel (Argentina), “El Custodio,” by Rodrigo Moreno (Argentina) and “Amarcord,” by Federico Fellini (Italy) — among so many others….  

What’s next for you?

I have just shot a new feature film, “Mãe só ha uma” — a teenager drama that follows two teenagers who are about to discover that they have an unknown brother. I will start editing it as soon as the festival ends. I also have a new feature project, involving angels and iPhones.

What cameras did you shoot on?

Last two films, we used Arri digital Alexa.

Did you crowdfund?

No, we didn’t. It’s not common in Brasil. 

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. Click here for more profiles.

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