By Maíra Amorim, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – July 2005. The world is shocked by a singular, tragic event: a Brazilian is mistaken for a terrorist and killed on the London Underground by British Police with seven shots in the head.
It was all over the news and the reaction of the Brazilian public was overwhelmingly negative. The story of Jean Charles de Menezes will now be told on the big screen in attempt to pay justice to the innocent Brazilian.
Directed by Henrique Goldman, “Jean Charles” the film opens on Friday, June 26th. Selton Mello, the actor-darling of the new national cinema, was chosen to play the protagonist. Vanessa Giácomo and Luis Miranda play his relatives and Jean’s real-life cousin, Patricia de Menezes, plays herself. It took her more than a year to accept the role and only did so because she believes that justice can still be done. British Police received a fine of GBP£175,000, but the two policemen who killed Jean were not found guilty.
The movie cost R$8,000,000 and was filmed in London and Paulínia, a city in the state of São Paulo that has been investing a lot in cinema over recent years. But the real story of de Menezes started at Gonzaga, a small city in Minas Gerais, which was reproduced in Paulínia for the film.
It is a co-production between Brazil and the United Kingdom, and Stephen Frears (“The Queen”) is one of the executive producers. “Jean Charles” was initially requested by BBC Broadcast but the contract with the Network was canceled due to artistic disagreements. BBC wanted to take a position that would privilege the British point of view and Goldman was not keen on taking it. So he stepped up and decided to make the film even without BBC sponsorship.
Jean Charles’ family, who were very cooperative during the whole production and shooting, will have a participation in the film’s revenues. “They helped a lot and I am really grateful of the fact that they trusted us,” said Goldman in an interview to Uol.
Last week, Goldman’s production was exhibited for the first time in Gonzaga. One-third, or 2,000 of the 6,000 people who live in this small town got together at a football stadium to watch the film. The director cleared his intention of “not making a reconstitution of his death but a celebration of his life,” as he declared before the screening. Some members of Jean Charles’ family saw the movie for the first time and were all very touched by the production.
The film is based on real facts along with a fictionalized script, written by Marcelo Starobinas. An addition to the story is the arrival of Jean’s cousin to London. By telling the story of de Menezes, Henrique Goldman is also depicting the life of thousands of Brazilians who live abroad, sometimes spending months or years in terrible conditions.
The trailer can be viewed at YouTube.