Brazilian film Greta, premiering Tuesday in the Berlin film festival's Panorama section, offers a character study of an aging gay male nurse grappling with oppressive loneliness, a fugitive lover, a dying transgender best friend and an obsession with Greta Garbo. It’s not exactly the kind of material likely to be celebrated by Brazil’s newly installed president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has publicly berated the LGBTQ community and said he’d rather his own son die than be gay.
“Things have really changed for the worse in Brazil,” admits Greta director Armando Praca. “The views of the current president and some of his people go totally against what I believe as a human being. We have consistently heard racist and homophobic statements that threaten the existence of the LGBTQ+ community, indigenous peoples and other minorities and more vulnerable populations.”
According to Greta producer Nara Aragao, the "uncertain moment" facing the country — and the film sector specifically — under the new administration has so far not directly affected this film. Although it had difficulties finding financing as an art house project from a first-time feature director (the budget is around 450,000 euros), Greta has solid distributor backing in Brazil’s Pandora Filmes and Berlin-based international sales agent M-Appeal, not to mention the premiere slot in Panorama. It also stars the well-known actor Marco Nanini, a veteran of Brazilian TV, stage and film.
There was never talk of stalling the project or eliminating any of its more explicit scenes, Aragao says. In fact, while the film’s local release date has not yet been set and could potentially still be complicated by the current climate, Praca says he considers it an “ethical obligation” to release the film precisely in these times, to give “visibility to this community, their issues, their desires and their lives.”
Yet Praca also insists his film tells a universal story that is not limited to or even conceived solely for the LGBTQ community.