Hot Docs 2021 Managers: Meet Maria Carolina Tillis – ‘You’re Not a Soldier’


Maria Carolina Tillis is a model, director, screenwriter and journalist. Telles is best known for creating and directing the docu reality series “Reto Imposible” for Natgeo Latin America, the History Channel’s “Brasil de Imigrantes” documentaries, and the television documentary “The Truth Under the Lie” for ELO. She has overseen more than 40 productions for Discovery Networks and has directed orchestrated programs for Disney, FOX, Turner, Rede Globo, Rede Record, Bandeirantes TV, and SBT such as “Big Brother Brasil”, “Rio Ink” and “Restricted Area.”

You’re Not a Soldier is showing at the 2021 Canadian International Hot Docs Documentary Festival, which takes place from April 29 to May 9. The festival is digital this year due to COVID-19. Broadcasting is geographically restricted in Canada.

W&H: Describe the movie in your own words.

MCT: It’s my feminine views of Andre Lyon’s cyclical life experience as a man, freelance war photographer, father, and son.

For me, it has brought meditations on where the feminine and the masculine meet within the complex practice of parenthood. I don’t know if the guy would do the same search.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

MCT: This is the era of massive misinformation, a phenomenon that is a symptom of the systematic suppression of information. At a time of deep political and social crisis in my country, Brazil, I think it is also very important to invest in production and to undertake a responsible exhibition of what is behind the scenes of information production. This is investing in transparency.

Information and the protection of the press are an important contemporary “weapon” in the battle that will protect democracy. It all starts with the information we have. The greater the suppression of the production of committed and professional content, the greater the space for circulation of advertising and disinformation. And here lies the central artery of our movie.

It is a film about the isolated experience and life of an independent Brazilian war photographer as a means of exposing the open veins of the press as a tool of freedom, democracy and peace.

W&H: What do you want people to think about after seeing the movie?

MCT: Above all, this is an anti-war movie. Instead of trying to see the war through a heroic point of view, with winners and losers, or through the eyes of soldiers, I have tried to convey anti-war messages through an experience driven by an information collector, photojournalist, and noncombatant, which indicates that war is hell. .

I think a powerful anti-war movie can make us pause and think more deeply about the horrific nature of war, and the indifference of it all. It is my humble appreciation for life, love, family and peace. I’d like to tell a cautionary tale to stay alive.

W&H: What’s the biggest challenge in making a movie?

MCT: At the start of this production, I was struggling to be strong by my father’s side in his final moments. It was clear. Embrace the end of his life in a very elegant way. He gave me the strength to continue doing what I had to do and asked me to see some shots of Liohn. I was confused, and I didn’t want to show him so much sadness at that very moment. But I decided to show him some specific action sequences. It brought his memories of WWII back, so he and I had time to revisit his younger years together, and that was the most important experience I had alongside him in his final days.

He told me again, as he had done so many times during my life, how he was used to concealing his expedition uniform from my grandmother, and convincing her that he was not about to join the Allies in Italy and how he had become frustrated with the war’s ending before. Reach the front lines. He really wanted to go and tell me that was his only frustration in life because he was a complete and happy man with a beautiful life experience surrounded by all this love and a wonderful and strong woman like me, my daughter, my sister from his first marriage, and my mom. I was very surprised and touched to hear at that moment.

It was a very difficult period of my life, very painful. Screenwriter Alexei Abbey felt it would be great to express that in our film because it had a real connection to what we were doing and our approach. We were provoking each other during several meetings. Finally I agree with him and feel like telling the story to my father. In the end, I think this was also an opportunity to somehow show how lucky he was because he hadn’t seen the blood, hate and the smell of death in war zones, and how lucky he was to live nearly 100 years of his life.

Ultimately, it’s also my message to him about how important it is to be a father. I never got his answer on the score, but I imagine I would have his gratitude and blessings if he were alive today.

W&H: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

MCT: There’s a series of facts that brought me here. I have grown up and woven all of my life experiences inspired by movies, science, music, literature, nature, and larger-than-life characters. I think this deep need to reach places and reach different universes through an inclusive and deep approach took me to journalism, and then to factual and documentary films.

W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?

MCT: Best advice: Don’t take a dogmatic approach to aesthetics and storytelling.

the worst? Don’t play in Boys’ Land. I didn’t pay attention to that one.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

MCT: recognize and navigate bias.

I think we have to challenge ourselves to take action and urge ourselves to leave the boundaries that separate the sexes. I think we should embrace this deep dive. Take your balance. Take credit for your work. Do not accept any limit. Stand up for what you believe in proudly and out loud. be brave. negotiate. Stand up for you and other women.

W&H: Name your favorite movie directed by women and why.

MCT: Wow, it’s so hard to choose. Some of the most amazing and beautiful movies ever made by women! During my years in London, I was closely associated with the work of Vietnamese director Trinh T. Minh Ha. And more recently, “Capernaum” by Nadine Labaki, India’s “Thirteenth” by Margaret Doras by Ava Duvernay, Sofia Coppola’s song “Lost in Translation”, Petra Costa “Elena” and Nair “Peace Bombay!” Syndrome “and” the piano “by Jane Campione and” An angel at my table “.

Today I will choose “American Psycho” by Mary Aaron. Aaron has always been an interesting filmmaker to express her feminism. She refuses to conform to any ideological framework, and explores stories about psychopaths and outcasts without attempting to explain, justify or condemn their behavior.

I think American Psycho was ahead of its time, and all of these topics became very important in the years since, especially given the interest in hostile male heroes and toxic masculinity.

W&H: How do you adjust to life during the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you maintain your creativity, and if so, how?

MCT: I’d like to say I’m a keeper rather than a creative one, as my country has become the global epicenter of the outbreak. Brazil is going through a period of deliberate anarchy. It is imperative to be aware of facing Bolsonaro’s policy of death. We are under a shocking outcome from structural denial and the extreme propaganda of the far right.

W&H: The film industry has a long history of underrepresenting people of color on screen and behind the scenes and reinforcing – and creating – negative stereotypes. What measures do you think should be taken to make Hollywood and / or the world of documents more inclusive?

MCT: Time to let storytellers share stories from a living experience perspective rather than studio fabrication. I would say there has to be a turning point in the white man’s never-ending lens into a kind of “multi-faceted lens”: where multiracial experiences, languages ​​and genres collide with one another and make interesting films.

We must not go on creating diverse reproductions of what is already there. We have to listen. To learn. To take the next step. We all have to stand by creating a culture where prejudice, stereotypes and racism are unacceptable, and where everyone feels safe working and being represented.

The media has historically portrayed stereotypical representations of people of color and women, whether in Hollywood or in the news. The same prejudice applies to Muslims, Asians, Latins, LGBT people, and transgender people. There is no longer any place for that.

Humanity is such an enormous number of beauty and seeing oneself on screen is crucial because society is not homogeneous.

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