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Every night, time stops for a moment in Sao Paolo, and ghosts and mosters of all kinds dance and play music on the city's deserted streets.

2014 | 5 - 10 | Brazil | Fantasy | Mixed Media | Supernatural

São Paulo do Brasil, night time. It’s 3:33 am and the time stops. We are in a deserted area of the city, and an incessant and captivating rhythm comes out of an abandoned gramophone on the street. Slowly, some colorful ghosts start to come out of manholes and dampers,  each intent on playing an instrument, to form an hectic and ghoulish symphony. These bizarre monsters continue to play, composing a lure that attracts all sorts of characters, giving life to an actual ghost block party. Demonic rhythms and dazzling colors draw us in this celebration at the borders of reality, until a threatening policeman with a scary skeletal face comes along and shuts everything down.

There’s no  intricate plot or story to follow, but it doesn’t matter. The perfect combination of music and images draws in the audience in a unique way. Brazilian director Guilherme Marcondes has created this ode to his country by combining the two opposing cores that characterize it, the passionate, crazy and full of life, and the most severe and authoritarian side. Caveirão is the first part of a series of ghost stories inspired by urban folklore that the director wants to realize, “The Master’s Voice“. In imagining the nocturnal activities of the secret spirits of Sao Paulo, Marcondes has “stolen”  many elements of Brazil’s darkest and most obscure pop culture.

In fact, every single element of this short is linked to something from the country’s history. The music that accompanies the ghost’s dance is a variation on a theme based on “Tenebroso” , a 1913 track from Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth. Even the main location of the short takes us back to early 900 Brazil: we are at Vila Maria Zelia, the first worker’s village of the country, built in 1917. The area, now in a state of abandon, has remained virtually unchanged since the 20s, and has appeared in many films.

Just like the ghostly protagonists of the short escape rules and laws, so does the film itself: fantasy, horror and music come together in a mix of live-acting, 2D animation and 3D VFX.

Caveirão is the result of an international collaboration that saw Brazilian companies Paranoid BRBirdo and Anvil FX work together with the French Autour de Minuit (Logorama), and  Marcondes’s production company Hornet (who also works with Julia Pott and Mikey Please, whose shorts have been previously feautred on Good Short Films). A very interesting making-of can be seen on the film’s website.

Director Guilherme Marcondes is an animation master, having made many commercials and short films. His first short  Tyger has won many awards in the international festival circuit, and in 2013 he’s been a visiting artist at Boston’s MIT.

Caveirão was presented in March 2014 at SXSW, and it is a rather rare case that the director has decided to put it online so soon, but maybe he wanted to make a loving tribute to his country, while all the eyes are on Brazil  as the  World Cup begins.

Flavia Ferrucci

Flavia Ferrucci

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