By Kate Rintoul, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — While the story of boy meets girl has been retold countless times in film, a new feature ‘The Fates’ (Portuguese title, ‘You + Me’), set against the backdrop of Rio’s infamous favelas, offers a fresh take on the convention. The film has been a journey of discovery for American writer and actress Iyin Landre, who was raised in New York and recently hails from Los Angeles.
The Fates sees Landre playing Valentina, who travels to Rio to recover from the shock of her mother’s death but whose life is thrown into chaos when she falls for Marcelo, a favela drug dealer.
Having first penned the story in 2012, Landre had originally been considering other South American cities as a backdrop to the modern tale of star-crossed lovers. “I had never been to Brazil before, so the story could’ve honestly been set anywhere. But what Rio had over the other cities was this majestic natural beauty of picture-perfect beaches and mountains, all pitched against this grit, this palpable danger.”
“For example, the dynamic of the very rich, living side by side with the poor, made it that much more interesting, and more plausible for my character to fall in love with someone from ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ if you will”, Landre said.
Landre has been living in Rio for the last two years and has enjoyed working on the project, “We just wrapped it all up, and I have to say that it was single-handedly the most exciting experience in my life to date. We shot all over the city, also in two separate favelas, and the city really lent itself to the story, so thanks to all my Cariocas! Brigadão!”
Although it was sometimes difficult (finding lead actor and love interest Douglas Rosa took longer than she hoped), for added authenticity it was important for Landre to cast Brazilians in the film. “We held auditions for most of our cast, and were also blessed enough to have some exciting name actors board the project because they took to the trailer and script. There was only one other gringo actor besides myself and that was Canadian/Irish actor David O’ Connor.”
Landre took a mixture of approaches to finding her actors, Carioca singer-songwriter Fabio Figueira De Sousa first heard about the film through O’Connor, and Landre at the bar he works in when both encouraged him to audition. Having earned the part, Figueira De Sousa plays James, a wealthy musician who befriends Marcelo.
From its conception to casting and production, The Fates sets out to break with stereotypes, something that Figueira De Sousa respected about the project. “I am from Rio, born and raised in favela do Jacarezinho, to have the opportunity to play a character that speaks English and is rich, certainly meant a lot to me cause it shows how versatile you can make yourself, if you believe it. It puts aside the cliches that a favela guy has to be cast as a favela guy forever.”
In true indie film spirit, those involved have grown together during the project and in a reflection of the support and generosity of spirit that Brazilians are known for, they are clubbing together to find creative ways of financing the final stage of the film.
Figueira De Sousa said. “I fell in Love with the idea in such a depth that I’ve organized a gig at the Lapa Irish Pub next Thursday [August 21st] with my band and two others so we can raise money for the post production. This is how it works in the underground, we help friends.”
Landre is hoping to harness the power of crowd funding with backers offered a range or rewards from digital downloads of the film to Skype conversations and limited edition artwork in order to raise funds for the costly post production process. Once completed Landre will be taking the film on the festival route in the U.S. and seeking distribution in Brazil.