Dream We All Scream: Interview with Medusa director Anita Rocha da Silveira Image

I am pleased that David Lynch was an influence, as I was thinking about his work while watching your movie. Lynch is one of the few American directors making art films that use horror elements. Medusa also uses horror to make art. What is your personal relationship to the horror genre?
I have to be honest. I was a very scared kid growing up. I would scare so easily. I couldn’t watch The Shining until I was 16 years old. I had to convince a lot of friends to come to my house to watch it with me as I was afraid to watch it alone. Once I was older and in college, I started to watch a lot of horror films and went crazy on them. The film that had the most huge impact on me was Scream, as it was the first horror movie I saw in a theater in Brazil. I can’t remember which one. The Scream trilogy was super big in Brazil. It had comedy elements and wasn’t so much bloody, so it was something I could watch without leaving super scared in the middle. I am a big fan now as I know someone made the horror, which isn’t real. I think I am fascinated with the feeling of being scared and screaming in movie theaters. My dream is people start screaming in the theaters while watching Medusa, especially at the end. But in the post-COVID era, people are more afraid to scream in movie theaters. I want to make people scream with my movies. I love people screaming together and getting excited. But I like the horror that has a little bit of humor in it, so I don’t get too terrified watching. That is why I watch Argento because his films are funny.

I am excited to see Medusa in a theater in the U.S. as I want to see how the rest of the audience reacts to it, particularly the opening. How have the reactions been at the festivals?
It changes. I have noticed when one person starts laughing in a theater. Everyone starts laughing. That one person gives others permission to laugh as well, as some people seemed scared to laugh during this movie. Some screenings, people go crazy and laugh a lot and can’t stop. So I don’t know what is going to happen. So far, the reactions have been super friendly. It varies from country to country, but some people start screaming and vocalizing during the film.

“…at the end of the film is a message for people to stick together and stand united.”

I can’t think of a better time for Medusa to be released in this country, as we have our own female oppression due to the rise of religious fanaticism through recent court decisions. What message do you want viewers to walk away with?
Here in Brazil, we’ve had some tough years. Since 2013, I could feel the conservative rise in Brazil. Then in 2016, was Dilma’s impeachment and Bolsonaro was elected. I felt that things were bad every year, but they could get worse. It is important that people just look at Brazil and realize things can get worse. Now we have elections in October, and I hope Lula can win so things can not be as bad as they are now. But because things were so shitty in Brazil, it was important for me for Medusa to have my version of a happy ending. So at the end of the film is a message for people to stick together and stand united. To scream the pain out, express yourself, and not be afraid. The 2015 version of the script had a more pessimistic ending, but when things were getting worse and worse, I needed to write an ending that was more optimistic for the people of Brazil. So the message is to stick together and scream. Put your pain out there, put your fears out the confront the world about what it has put together inside you. It would be best if you took all the anger inside and put it outside. That is a way that maybe people can start again. I wanted to end on a high note, with more of a “Let’s Fight” energy.

It is one of my favorite endings in a film. At this point, after your second feature, you are pretty much already an auteur. What kind of movies do you want to make in the future?
I am working on my third feature. It may be outside your demographic though it does use the fantastic. It will be a film about making film, using a lot more musical elements. I am trying to flirt with the musical genre more.

Medusa opens in New York and Los Angeles on July 28th, 2022, before expanding across the U.S.

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