Mariana Lima is still here…
The 48-year-old Brazilian actress will star in I’m Still Here, which will be directed by Walter Salles.
The film is based on Marcelo Rubens Paiva’s best-selling memoir about his mother Eunice Paiva, a housewife forced to reinvent herself as an activist when her husband fell victim to the military regime that took control of Brazil in 1964. Her husband became among many who were tortured and disappeared with no due process.
Lima, one of Brazil’s most acclaimed actresses with credits that include Dark Days and Father’s Chair, will play Paiva.
Murilo Hauser scripted the 2019 Un Certain Regard winning-Invisible Life, adapted the screenplay, with Salles overseeing the development process.
The film is set to begin production in Brazil early next year, with Library Pictures International providing financing. CAA Media Finance will broker domestic distribution while Wild Bunch is handling international sales, excluding Brazil.
The author was 11 when his father, leftist congressman Rubens Paiva, was dragged off for interrogation by the military, this after he returned from exile. He was never seen again. His wife campaigned relentlessly to find his whereabouts, at a very dangerous time when Brazilian was controlled by military dictatorship. Eunice Paiva was arrested along with her husband and held in a dark cell for 12 days before taking on her new role, which would become a race against Alzheimer’s Disease. While she was still able, she got to the bottom of her husband’s disappearance and made sure the records of events were recorded to be shared with future generations. It was concluded by the National Truth Commission that her husband had been tortured to death for receiving letters from leftist organizations. The tragic history of torture in Brazil came to light recently when Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro waxed nostalgic for the days when the military dictatorship was in place, much to the outrage of many.
“Most of my personal projects required very long development processes, back to Central Station, which was five years, and Motorcycle Diaries was four,” Salles said. “None took as much time as this one that I in part was a witness to when I was 13 years old,”
Salles said he prepped I’m Still Here in relative secrecy, he knew from moment one that he wanted Lima for his protagonist.
“Mariana is an extraordinary theater actress, and one of the most sensitive film actresses of her generation in Brazil,” Salles said. “We’ve talked about collaborating, but I waited to find the role that could truly benefit from her extraordinary talent to give birth to this character. I thought of her since the very beginning, because of her unique talent and the economy she has in transmitting the emotional core of a character and a story. [Eunice Paiva] had to build an internal fortress to survive, but you could sense the trauma she went through. Marina is the actress to best portray this role. I most like movies where the arc of the main character somehow reflects the arc of the country itself as it goes through a specific period of time and tries to determine what it wants to be,” he said. “We had that in Central Station, and we have it here.
“Having known Eunice, her husband and her children, makes this is a very unique project to me,” Salles said. “I never came so close to my own life experience in a movie than this. In that sense, it feels a little like my Roma, in terms of the personal nature of Alfonso Cuaron’s film which I love so much.”