American Horror Films Inspired Talented Brazilian Director and Writer Roberto Jabor

Was there a moment or an idea that inspired to become a director and writer?
I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro. In the late 60’s and 70’s, in Brazilian TV, we had a lot of American shows and films on air. I remember watching “The Twilight Zone” and Roger Corman’s B movies, and I started to read Edgar Allan Poe. Later on I was infatuated watching Robert Wise’s “The Haunting” (1963) and “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951), and with the 80’s masterpiece “The Shining” directed by Stanley Kubrick. Since then I’m consistently watching American horror movies. I guess, those American directors inspired me to become a director and writer.

Where did the idea for Anima Sola come from?
I was lecturing an acting workshop for TV and Cinema to Brazilian actors in Rio, and I was developing in my mind an idea to make an ultra-low-budget horror feature film mixing new talents from my acting classes with professional actors from Brazilian’s Telenovelas. I started out doing a research about a theme which could have a Latin touch but still an old American horror/thriller movies style. One day, late night, I was watching films on HBO Brazil and “Gothika”, with Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr. and Penelope Cruz, was on, I saw it again and again. I noticed the character of Penelope Cruz, “Chloe Sava”, was always talking about Anima Sola. It was weird, because her character was a Latin character, and I didn’t know anything about the myth of the Saint Anima Sola. I researched the subject in depth and I found the story extremely interesting. The Roman Catholic Church with a Saint who is still in the purgatory. A Saint created by men. Italians immigrants brought this incredible myth to America. So, with all those elements I made the feature film “Anima Sola”.

Is the Brazilian filmmaking community supportive toward local filmmakers?
Not really. Down here, we don’t have an investor or investments to make films. We need to go under the Brazilian Agency of Cinema (ANCINE), with a lot of bureaucracy to get a stamp allowing us to find sponsors. It’s a mess, because those sponsors would have a tax break given by the Brazilian Government through this agency, so at the end of the day, ANCINE controls everything, even who is going to sponsor who. If you have a “friend” in the agency or in the Brazilian Government everything goes smoothly, if not, you are not allowed to get any sponsor. I’m out of it. Films can’t not be made under this bureaucracy for the “chosen one”. There’s no artistic merit on this path.

How is the Horror genre received in Brazil?
The Brazilian audience loves horror movies. We’re 200 million people in Brazil. We’ve a box office audience around 35 million people. American horror movies are successful all across Brazil, but we don’t have horror movies made by Brazilian filmmakers. The horror genre comes to Brazilian movie theaters and television mainly from productions from the US, some of UK and Canada, and a small amount from Spain. Since the late 80’s, I’ve been pushing myself to make American horror/thriller style movies.

Do you have a favorite film genre?
I guess, it’s clear I do love horror/thriller/mystery movies, not only to watch but to make them.

What piece of advice would you give to filmmakers making their first film?
I think it’s important to understand that a good story is fundamental to begin making a film. Without a good script you won’t have a film. The knowledge of what you want to show to the audience. If it is a drama, comedy or horror, you need to understand how to catch up the audience. Have a passion for what you’re telling. Believe in your story, in your actors, in your crew, in yourself. If you truly have a passion and know why you want to share this specific story with the audience, you will be on the right path.

Can you tell us a little about your current project in-development, House of Santeria?
I want to make an English-spoken American horror movie. I was raised watching American horror movies. I met Beau Yotty and invited him to work with me in this project, not only as an actor, but also as a screenwriter and producer. I lived in Miami when I worked as Artistic Director for Cisneros TV Group. I understand the Latin audience in the US and Latin America. It is growing and hunger for good horror films. I and Beau discussed how to approach this audience. Netflix is making English-spoken TV series for South America, for example “Narcos”, with the Brazilian actor Wagner Moura and directed by the Brazilian filmmaker Jose Padilha. HBO Latin America is making shows in Spanish and Portuguese for South America. I still think we will have a larger audience if we make it in English language. “House of Santeria” could be a new era of feature films and TV series mixing up elements from the Latin culture with American and Latin actors to start tell stories for all audiences, all in English language. Beau wrote a great script about “Santeria”, a kind of voodoo, in Brazil well known as “Macumba”. I asked him to add soccer’ scenes in the story. All soccer teams in South Florida are owned by Brazilians and have Brazilian soccer players. I’m doing some casting in Rio.  I’m having a hard time finding new Brazilian talents fluent in English, but I just found an emerging talent, such a great actor, Thomas Shores, who is Brazilian and British citizen, you can tell by his birth name, Thomas has been part of a number of Brazilian TV series and Telenovelas. It’s time to make films with this melting pot of cultures and people.


Visit Roberto’s website