Brazilian drama Mars One follows the Martins family, optimistic dreamers who are quietly leading their lives on the margins of a major Brazilian city following the disappointing election of a far-right extremist president. They are a lower middle-class Black family who feels the strain of its new reality as the political dust settles.
Tercia (Rejane Faria), the mother, finds her world turned upside down after an unexpected prank where a man threatens to blow himself up in a café, leaves her wondering if she’s cursed. Her husband, Wellington (Carlos Francisco), puts all of his hopes into the soccer career of their son, Deivinho (Cícero Lucas), who reluctantly follows his father’s ambitions despite secretly aspiring to study astrophysics and colonize Mars. Meanwhile, their older daughter, Eunice (Camilla Damião), falls in love with a free-spirited young woman and ponders whether it’s time to leave home.
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Director Gabriel Martins said that the scene with Tercia and the prank “contributes to this feeling of energy between tragedy and comedy that is part of Brazil.”
“We never know when to laugh or if we are supposed to laugh,” Martins said during a panel Saturday at Deadline’s Contenders Film: International award-season event. “But it actually brings something way bigger to the story that is this imminence of death and this idea of this character having a more existential perspective.”
The Array Releasing film, which premiered in Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition this year and is Brazil’s submission for the International Oscar category this year, is an exploration of family relationships and the things that are left unsaid.
Speaking about Eunice’s inability to tell her parents about her relationship with another woman, Martins said he used the slow movement of the camera to bring levity to the situation when the family are watching a big soccer game together and Eunice’s mother and father see her holding hands with the woman they think is just a friend.
“I love how movies and cinema with just slow camera movement can bring a lot of humor,” said Martins. “The film doesn’t need to say what the characters are thinking. Everything is there on their faces and I think, in many ways, it’s something that is comic in a way, because it’s funny in the way that it happens because there is a rivalry between two soccer teams but also, at the same time, it’s underlining something that is not said enough – the relationship between Eunice and her family.”
He added, “I love that the scene can mean both things.”
Check back Monday for the panel video.