AFTER achieving international fame for playing the drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in the web series Narcos, Wagner Moura debuted as a director with the movie Marighella that premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year. The film was screened at the 50th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa, on Tuesday.
Speaking during a masterclass, whose timing overlapped with the screening of Marighella, Moura said, even though he received “many invitations”, he was not interested “in having the Hollywood sort of career”. Instead, he chose to direct and co-write this movie, which is based on the life of politician and guerilla fighter Carlos Marighella.
The film has sparked a controversy in Brazil. “Marighella is a political film and it is currently being censored in Brazil. My goal is to produce and make movies about Latin people. I want to make movies that don’t really force a stereotype. I have those political and ambitious agendas in that sense. I just produced and acted in a film for Netflix about this Brazilian called Sérgio Vieira de Mello, who was a diplomat and supposed to be the secretary general of the UN, and was killed in Iraq in 2003. It will release soon on the streaming platform,” said Moura, who has also acted in Olivier Assayas-directed Wasp Network, that is also being screened at the ongoing IFFI.
While the actor, who is also a musician, is open to working with directors and actors whom he admires, he said, he debuted as a director to create his own content. “I wish to create politically-relevant content and to make films about empathy. These films should see people as people and not as statistics,” said Moura, who finds direction “easy” and acting more “complicated”.
Acclaimed for his roles in the film series Elite Squad and Elysium, Moura said: “Marighella’s release in Brazil was cancelled. So, it is nice to travel to many film festivals. The movie is about this revolutionary, Marighella, who was a Congressman, a left-winger. With the (then prevailing political) situation, the only way they had was to take up guns and to take up struggle. In 2013, when we started working on it, the idea was just to bring back the name of Marighella. But then the film became about people who are resisting even now,” said the 43-year-old. Pointing out that the “culture of Brazil is under censorship”, he said: “It’s really sad that Marighella was sold to many international territories but can’t release in Brazil.” But there lies the beauty of filmmaking, he believes. “Last week, I was on the jury at the Lisbon Film Festival. I saw a Tibetan film called Balloon. It was so beautiful. I was completely connected to those characters. Regardless of cultural backgrounds, we all are human,” he added.
Talking about playing the character of Escobar, he said that he always sees characters as people. “Of course, Pablo was a bad guy. But if an actor chooses, he can show someone as a monster or a saint. People are way more complex than that. We all have dark places in our souls and we all have beautiful things. Pablo was a very charismatic guy. It’s not just that he was the richest narco dealer. He was very interesting. He was the guy who built all those houses and tried to go into politics. He wanted to be loved and to break that huge social gap that still exists in
South America. I never saw him or any character as one thing or the other. There are ranges.”