10th Ca' Foscari Short Film Festival
International Competition
João Pais da Silva & André Rodrigues
Feliz Natal, Sr. Monstro
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Inside an abandoned mall, a courageous little girl gets a visit from a weary Santa with plans of his own.

Hi Joäo & André thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?

Well, thanks for asking. On one hand, afraid and worried on a daily basis. At the same time, with a lot of free time to run through my watchlist which I couldn’t have done otherwise.

Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?

Actually, yes. Me and Tiago, the writer of this short, we made a quick pilot for a TV show that was created, written, filmed and edited in one week.

We had a terrific time making it.  Part of the fun was actually not knowing if it would work or even glue together properly. One of those experiences that really gets the blood flowing.

Aside from that, we’re discussing ideas and picking up steam for future films. Crossing fingers for next year.

Congratulations on having Feliz Natal, Sr. Monstro selected for this year's Ca' Foscari Short Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of films?

Honoured and delighted. Looking forward to seeing as many films as we can and talking to the people that made them.

If they want to talk to us, of course. We promise to keep our distance if they ask us.

Feliz Natal, Sr. Monstro is in the International Competition, does this add any additional pressure on you?

Of course we want to win, but we’re cool about it. The pressure came when we were shooting it. Now, we want to enjoy Venice, the festival and allow some amazing Italian food to delay our diet plans.

"We couldn’t shoot in the original shopping mall due to it being a pigeon wasteland..."

Can you tell me a little bit about Feliz Natal, Sr. Monstro how this film come about?

Well, we needed to graduate. And Tiago started to rave about this weird Christmas short script he had typed away in his pyjamas. A bunch of us read it, got a kick out of it and decided that was the one to go with.

What inspired this screenplay?

You’ll have to ask Tiago for details on what inspired him in terms of the writing. But, if we’re talking about the setting, he started to get obsessed about this colossal shopping mall in the outskirts of Lisbon that had the first IMAX  theatre. Now, this thing opened in 1994, when they only had short documentaries and what not. As you can guess, they closed the IMAX room before the decade was even over.

What was the experience for you both co-directing this film, is it something you will do again in the future?

To be honest, I don’t think so. I’ll give you the classic answer of “we split due to creative differences”.

Did you face many challenges bringing this film to life?

Way more than we would’ve expected. We couldn’t shoot in the original shopping mall due to it being a pigeon wasteland so we had to run all over the country in search of one that could fit the mould. Also, working with an 11 year old actress (at the time) in such a heavy atmosphere was not a walk in the park, especially due to some overtones that the story carries.

"We’re always learning with each other and the further we go, the better."

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

You know, it’s all there for a reason. The good and the bad. Reflects that point in time. It’s not perfect, but other imperfections will come.

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

When I was a kid, my dad said I couldn’t get a steady shot with his handycam so I set out to prove him wrong. In the end, he ended up working for me as a camera assistant.

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?

“Go personal.”

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

Of course. We’re always learning with each other and the further we go, the better. Also, it gets very hard to steal ideas these days. We need new voices. Constantly.

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

“Go personal.”

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Feliz Natal, Sr. Monstro?

Hope you laugh at a joke or two, maybe get a little bit spooked. Just have a good time, really.

If you don’t… Well, at least it doesn’t last very long.

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