Behind the Scenes at the Cannes Film Festival

A Viagem (The Trip) tells the story of António, an elderly retired man from Lisbon, Portugal, who spends his days drinking at the bar while his wife passes the time by watching mindless TV shows at home. Their life has become a mundane routine devoid of passion. But one day, António suffers an unexpected accident, which allows him to look at life in a new light. He realizes he is still in love with his wife, and therefore decides to use all of their savings and rent a convertible to go on an idyllic holiday. But things don’t quite turn out as António expected… and the couple gets lost. Alone, in the middle of nowhere, they must stick together in order to survive.

What kind of approach to the story was important for you as a director?

The story was inspired by a beautifully metaphoric short story of the same title written by the Portuguese author Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. Taking that as a starting point, I created these characters and asked myself what would happen if they were to be taken out of their natural habitat and put in extremely harsh circumstances. António is fighting for an almost impossible dream and to me there is heroism in trying. As a director I wanted the actors’ performances to come in first place. The techniques I learned at Columbia University allowed me to use the camera as a way to tell the story with shots, advancing the narrative and hopefully trying to get at something poetic.

What was the production like for the film?

Pre-production lasted almost 2 months, after a period of 10 drafts of the script. Principal photography took 8 days. It was very intense, as we had demanding décors (very hot days under the sun, extremely cold scenes in the woods at night, etc.) but the spirit of wanting to do something different kept us going. I feel very fortunate to have had the help of a very hard-working and enthusiastic cast and crew.

What do you expect from the Cannes Film Festival?

Being a part of the Cineondation at Cannes Film Festival is a huge honor. I am looking forward to having my film play there, meeting like-minded aspirants, and industry professionals, as well as having a good time.

What is your next project?

I am currently working on two feature scripts, one which takes place in Lisbon, and the other one in New York.

Find more interviews and articles about the World of Shorts in our Cannes 2011 Special Edition!