‘Tropical Sunday’ Director Fabián Ribezzo on Maputo’s Street Children: TheWrap’s ShortList Quickie

The festival finalist from Argentina tells TheWrap about what inspired his award-winning short film and how he made it

“A Tropical Sunday,” one of 12 finalists in TheWrap‘s 2014 ShortList Film Festival, reflects a very grim reality: Not every child grows up in a loving home.

In the case of the characters in Argentinian director Fabián Ribezzo’s short film (above), their home is often the streets — an environment which inspired him to write and direct a tale about four Mozambican children struggling to enjoy carnival attractions that more privileged kids in their village ride with ease.

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“Street kids are visible, they have occupied the public space and they share it with us. They cross boundaries when they defy the dependency model by looking for autonomy and independence,” Ribezzo told TheWrap. “They challenge our idea that childhood is synonymous with domesticity. I was astonished to see their tremendous creativity in making a living for themselves in very tough conditions.”

“Tropical Sunday,” the winner of the Best Drama award at the 2014 Aspen Shortsfest, is competing for the ShortList Film Festival’s YouTube Audience Prize (vote for your favorite here) and EPIX Industry Prize, which will be announced on Aug. 28.

Ribezzo spoke with TheWrap about his film ahead of the festival ceremony. Read the Q&A below:

TheWrap: Congratulations, how does it feel to be among the twelve finalist in TheWrap’s ShortList Film Fest?
Fabián Ribezzo:
A movie without an audience doesn’t exist, so every possibility to show it is a gift and theWrap’s ShortList Film Fest is offering to “A Tropical Sunday” a worldwide audience! This is exciting. 

How did you come up with the concept for your short?
After 10 years spent in Mozambique, making educational films to show in the Mozambican villages, I came across several different realities and among those that struck me the most there was the life of the kids populating the streets of Maputo. I was astonished to see their tremendous creativity in making a living for themselves in very tough conditions. I decided to make an independent movie in order to offer an original and realistic point of view, avoiding cynicism or pitifulness, but looking at things through warm and human lenses.

How was your film made and where was it created?
The right to play is article  31 in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, this makes it a right for all children without discrimination or exclusion. This basic right was central while I made the story for “A Tropical Sunday.” A few casting calls were set up in the bairros (neighbourhoods) of Maputo where we found, among 200 kids, the four main characters. Then, we rented the “Tropical Luna Park” of Maputo and shot the film in four days.

Also read: TheWrap Announces 12 Finalists for 2014 ShortList Film Festival

Who else worked with you on making the film?
Maputo offers a small community of technicians and collaborators, most of them are friends. The photography director Pipas Forjaz, with his Red Epic camera, was the only one who worked for free, helping us to reduce the budget. Berry Bickle, a Zimbabwean artist, made the Art Direction, Louggi Junior, Mozambican stylist, made the Costume Design, the actor Diaz Santana was my first assistant and Humberto Notiço, from AMOCINE (Mozambican Filmmakers Association) was my second assistant. For the music I always collaborate in Mozambique with “Positivo Moçambique” a group of very talented musicians. The Michael Jackson’s song was specially composed for the film.

Do you plan to expand the short?
No, this is a short story, expand it would be unnatural.

How much did it cost to make the film and how was it funded?
We spent $45,000, not including those who worked for free (the photography director, the producer and myself). 60% of the budget came from the producer Silvia Bottone and myself. We funded the rest with a Kapipal campaign, through which our friends, most of them working in humanitarian projects, supported us.

What will you do with your $5,000, should you win either our industry or audience prize.
We are still spending money promoting the film, so $5,000 can help us in this way.

If you win the industry prize, what will you offer at your pitch meeting with a studio?
At the moment I’m working on a screenplay about greed.