Magazine article Screen International

Set Report: Bald Mountain

Magazine article Screen International

Set Report: Bald Mountain

Article excerpt

Brazilian film-maker Heitor Dhalia's latest project is a modern-day gangster film set during a famous gold rush.

After his 2012 Hollywood thriller Gone, Brazilian film-maker Heitor Dhalia is back on home soil with Bald Mountain (Serra Pelada), a drama centring on the 1980s gold rush at the Serra Pelada mine in Brazil.

Made famous by the black-and-white images taken by photographer Sebastiao Salgado in 1986, the gold rush saw up to 120,000 people chasing their dreams of wealth. Now, 27 years later, Dhalia is using it as the backdrop for a "modern gangster film" set in a lawless land.

The director, whose credits include the 2009 Cannes Un Certain Regard selected Adrift and Drained which played at Sundance in 2007, was drawn to the urgency of a gold rush that saw miners driven to kill each other.

"As with Martin Scorsese films, I want the audiences to feel inside that harmful and cruel world. It is not a look from the outside. The idea is to give the audience a view of 360 degrees," he says.

The film follows two friends who leave Rio de Janeiro in search of gold. One, an ex-boxer, is corrupted by greed and power, becoming a gangster and destroying his friendship with the other, whose only ambition is to make enough money to return to his pregnant wife.

For his protagonists, Dhalia chose two actors -- Julio Andrade and Juliano Cazarré -- who are known for their work in film and on television in Brazil. Andrade's credits include Suzana Amaral's Hotel Atlantico (2009) and Beto Brant's Stray Dog (2007), while Cazarré has worked on Matheus Nachtergaele's The Dead Girl's Feast (2008) and Fernando Meirelles' 360 (2011).

Wagner Moura, who appeared in the Elite Squad films, also takes a supporting role.

"Regardless of the visibility that all of them have, they were the right actors to translate this universe, which is so masculine and dangerous," says Dhalia, who is hoping Bald Mountain will cross borders thanks to the international renown of the Serra Pelada mine.

"We revisited the event that represented the highest concentration of manual labour since the pyramids of Egypt," says Dhalia. "Although the miners used to work in inhuman conditions, they didn't feel like slaves of anyone. All of them saw themselves as rich in potential, as do those who play in Las Vegas or invest in the stock market. …

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