Exclusive Interview With Guaxuma Director Nara Normande – “I would have never imagined that a personal story would go so far”

Nara Normande beautiful short animation Guaxuma tells a very personal story about a beautiful friendship, which was cut short due to a horrifying accident. An animation which has won 4 Oscar-qualifying awards in 4 Oscar Qualifying film Festivals, we had the chance to speak with Nara Normande about her intimate film: why she wanted to share her personal story, how she feels about winning all those prestige awards and what she has coming up in the future.

Hi Nara, how are you doing?

Hey, I’m good! Thank you for asking! 

Congratulations on your lovely animated short film “Guaxuma”. You are the director and writer of this film. How much of this film is based on real-life experience?

Actually, all the films are based on my real life, all these facts really happened. As I use lots of poetry to tell the story, sometimes they don’t seem real. But yes, they are. 

How was it to see those stories come to life?

In the beginning, it was strange for me to make a film about my life as it shows me so much.  I’m the main character together with my best friend Tayra, I also do the voice over…  But then I got used to the idea and nowadays I’m really happy that I could show to the world: this special place I was born and this beautiful friendship I had. 

It’s clear that a lot of talented animators worked on this film. With how many did you work on it with and how long did it take to get the animations right?

We had 12 animators coming from France, Brazil, and Portugal (13 with me). It was a challenge to manage this entire team at the same time in different parts of the world.  But I loved it, all of them were very dedicated to doing their best. I think, as a director, you have to understand the skills of each animator and try to adapt them to your film. These mixes of styles and designs together with the mixes of techniques led us to a final result that was connected to the storytelling and satisfied me. 

“Guaxuma” already won multiple awards at different prestigious film festivals and the numbers of nominations and winnings keep on increasing. How does it feel for you to see that your work is being recognized like that all over the world?

I would never imagine that such a  personal story would go so far. These prizes are really important, also it helps to create a buzz around the film and spread the curiosity to the public to go watch the film and help it have a longer life. We still depend on a lot of festivals to have film screenings. I’m really happy with the acceptance of the public as well, we’ve received very sincere feedbacks from all over the world.

Where can people see Guaxuma? Are there other film festivals that Guaxuma will be screening at? 

Guaxuma can now be watched on Vimeo on Demand and some festivals are also screening it, as Holy Shorts in Los Angeles (in August). We did our premiere at the Annecy Festival last year, but the film is still travelling to some nice festivals.

 In every of your film, we see some aspects of family. Why is the topic of family so important for you to include it in your work?

I’ve never thought about this. Actually, my first film (“Dia Estrelado”) is about a family trying to survive in an inhospitable place and  Guaxuma is about my memories of childhood.  But my second short (“Heartless”) is a love story during the summer, not really related to the family subject. But something I think it’s recurrent in my films (except for my first film that I was starting to enter into this world of filmmaking) is this beach I was born.  I shot my live-action short “Heartless” there, “Guaxuma“ is about the time I lived there and my first feature “The Heron” will be also shot there. This beach plays almost the role of a character in my films.

Where did your passion for film come from?

My first contact with film came from my father – he is a cinephile and had a huge collection of “art” films  (Truffaut, Antonioni, etc). This inspired me for sure.

 You were already a director and writer, will we ever see you in front of the screen as well?

Not at all, I’m a shy woman! I can direct actors and puppets, always behind the camera.

Do you already have other projects you’re working on? 

I’m developing my first feature film “The Heron”, co-written and co-directed by Brazilian filmmaker Tião, with whom I’ve collaborated in the short “Heartless”. The film will be produced by Emilie Lesclaux from Cinemascopio, producer of  Kleber Mendonça Filho’s “Bacurau” and “Aquarius” (Cannes Oficial Selection), and co-produced by French production company Les Valseurs, that co-produced Guaxuma

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