CONTINUING our coverage of the Manchester International Film Festival, our reporter takes a look at Public Intimacy and the Q&A with director Luciana Canton.

Friday evening’s first narrative feature at this year’s Manchester International Film Festival was a very small Brazilian film about the difficulties and differences in love.

Entirely funded by those who were involved in the production, Public Intimacy tells four separate stories set to the seasons and is not afraid to be bold in its storytelling and imagery – tackling homosexuality, transsexuality, heterosexuality and grief all within a short 70 minute run time.

Director Luciana Canton has made a film that asks the audience how it feels, that does not give you answers and that makes you think about what ‘love’ is to you. The thoughtful nature of this film is perhaps its most interesting aspect.

Few films feel as passionate and free as Public Intimacy and it was clear not only from the film itself but from what Canton said in the Q&A that was held after the screening.

She did not set out to make a film with answers, she said: “We didn’t shoot with a script, we improvised.

“Being an actress too, I hate auditions. I picked who I wanted to be in the film by looking at their photographs.” This improvisation gives the film is very real atmosphere except perhaps in the final of the four stories in which the film takes a rather dark turn and looks at grief, almost evoking a horror film atmosphere in its story of struggling to deal with loss set in an isolated house on a mountain-side.

This is certainly the most unclear of the four stories but as Canton explained after the screening: “I want to know how it makes you feel. That is why I made this film. I have no answers.”

The first story is narrated in a way reminiscent of legendary French director, Jean Luc-Godard, telling the tale of a homosexual couple and is impressively bold in its depiction of true homosexual intimacy.

Remembering that all actors in the film are not professionals makes you feel even more impressed at the level of passion evident in the production of Public Intimacy.

The second tells the story of a prostitute who grapples with love vs money and asks the question ‘is true love worth giving up if it means financial security?’

Lead character Maria’s nature of work plays on her and her husband’s mind – due in no small part to the fact that she is getting the majority of her work from her husband’s boss.

This story was arguably the strongest in the film and it certainly was the most thought-provoking. What Public Intimacy did so well throughout all four of its stories was its ability to pull the audience into the situations of the characters; something that can often be more difficult with foreign language films.

The way the film was presented though made this possible and is a great example of how a low (or in this case, no) budget can actually make a film more impressive. It requires more creative thought behind it and Canton and her crew were able to deliver.

Canton told me that the story of the prostitute was 100% real and that the actress who played Maria spent four hours one afternoon talking to a real prostitute in order to get the full story of what goes through people’s minds in that situation.

The third story is also true to life as Canton also told me: “It’s the story of a real teacher in Sao Paulo who was fired for being transsexual.

“The affair she has in the film is purely for the film, but I found out about that story and had to bring that into the light,” she said.

This is perhaps the most heartfelt story as it deals not only with transsexuality, but with blackmail and female homosexuality and is the story that ends in perhaps the most cheerful way. But again, Canton does not want to give the audience answers, this interpretation could be radically different to any other.

Public Intimacy is a film for those who enjoy small scale, indie film making and is entirely worth your time. It will keep you thinking for a good while afterwards about love in your own life and aside from this, its bold realism and its impressive creativity for such a low budget make Public Intimacy a success.

By Morgan Robinson

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