How long did it take for you to make this film; from the creation of the story to the finished film?
The film took three and a half years to make.
As far as the overall artistic design is concerned were you influenced by anything/anyone specifically?
The starting point was the drawing of the boy. Seeing through his eyes was fundamental in creating the universe we did. Everything was done through the eyes of the boy. In him I found a more primitive approach to my drawing, spurred by the freedom to draw like a child. It was always the boy facing the world.
Everything involving industry - cranes, boats, forestry equipment - takes on animal characteristics, it could come across as irony or a paradox; something natural doing unnatural things. Why the choice in designing them to look like this?
Everything proceeded from the “Boy” who I’d once scribbled in a notebook while doing research for another film. I found him one day in one of my old sketch books. With him, I didn’t just find a charismatic new character, I also found a new way of drawing, unfettered and free. This boy dragged me along with him, insisting I discover his story. I felt as if I’d entered an imaginary space, a place that I could easily access through the boy’s eyes. Through him, I began drawing nature — flowers, fruits, tree, people, animals, and the new characters that emerged. I used a similar approach when drawing the city.
Your film is apathetic towards the working class, they leave their homes in pursuit of a better life in the city only to be replaced by modernization and automation, how personal to you are themes like this in your film?
“Boy and the World” had very realistic roots. It emerged from another project I’d been working on — a documentary about the history of Latin America. The idea was to tell the history through the lens of protest songs of the 60s and 70s, which of course made it a film with a highly political content. I think the spirit of that earlier film permeated the creation of “Boy and the World”. I would sit down and draw entire segments of the film absorbed in those songs. In my view, the main theme is the loss and search for a father. It is not an uncommon theme in Latin American cinema, and it symbolically can also be seen as the search for father in the sense of fatherland. I asked myself how these Latin American countries — born as exploited colonies, with a very difficult childhood, characterized by military dictatorships which served specific economic interests — arrived at the globalized world of today. Later the film found a more universal voice beyond that specific moment in Latin America’s history, but the spirit of protest remained alive in the film.
Are these issues you raise in your film as much a Worldly issue as they are a concern for you at home in Brazil? Did you expect for your film to speak to audiences outside of your home country?
As I said, “Boy and the World” is a very universal story. It deals with the loss of a father, and above all it speaks to what it means to be human.
The fact that the story is told through images and music — with no dialogue or recognizable language — makes it even more accessible to all types of audiences, of all ages. It's a film that sparks good conversation between adults and children. I’ve seen it happen everywhere the film has been screened.
For yourself where does hope lie then for this working class? Is that in the scene towards the end where the rural lands have been reclaimed by the people and they are growing their own crops?
Yes, I see a lot of hope in that scene. I try to look not just at the working class but at the human being. I see hope in people making the opposite journey — from the city to the countryside, searching for alternative, simpler styles of living.