In Conversation with Danilo Godoy, ASFF 2014 Filmmaker, New Projects

Brazilian director Danilo Godoy has been travelling the world in a series of new productions and collaborations across the short and feature film industry. Since being awarded Best Artists’ Film at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival in 2014, Godoy has gone on to write his first feature film, Hover, direct a short film entitled Wide Armored Eyes for Danish director Kristian Håskjold’s web channel The Current, and work with Brazilian Singer Josi Lopes on a new venture into the genre of music video. We catch up with Godoy and hear about his ongoing projects, including new short film Egyptian which tells the story of a deaf mechanic and will be acted entirely in Brazilian Sign Language.

ASFF: Your latest script Hover has a very personal feel to it. Does any part of the piece reflect upon your own life?
DG: This is my first professional feature film script, and it’s the beginning of a great adventure for me. Everything in Hover (or Sobreevoos as the original title in Portuguese) began when I was returning home one night and I saw, parked in front of my apartment, a huge truck with an enormous container. We are used to seeing containers in ports, or on highways being transported, but it is unusual to see them in front of your house, so I started to think: who is moving in? Is it a family? What kind of secrets and mysteries could this container have? All of these questions were in my mind for a year whilst I was developing the script for Hover, where I tell the story of a dysfunctional family on moving day where all of them have to face their most intimate fears. For me it’s a particular odyssey that happens only for one day in their lives. The story takes place in an apartment in São Paulo, the city where I live, so a lot in the script reflects some of my impressions about new family constructions – and deconstructions – in this cosmopolitan city where everything is so loud and everybody is in a rush.

ASFF: How did you find working with another director, Kristian Haskjold, in comparison to being on your own when it comes to directing?
DG: Kristian was great! He is an amazing person and filmmaker. We met last year at ASFF and at the beginning of 2015 he invited me to direct a short film for The Current ( Kristian is one of the founders of The Current and we discussed some ideas before the shooting. The Current‘s philosophy promotes each director’s autonomy and enables creatives to deal with a subject the way they want to, whilst reflecting on some social question happening in the world. My short film Wide Armoured Eyes looks at how the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing in an alarming rate.

ASFF: How have you found the experience of directing a music video, in comparison to creating an artists’ film?
DG: Directing a music video was a fantastic and stimulating challenge, one that encouraged me to create images in a different way than maybe I’m used to with fiction stories or documentaries.
When singer/actress Josi Lopes told me her ideas about what she wanted for the video and her influences from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais and her own African roots, I was impressed. She is such a vibrant person that I wanted to direct a video completely different to my previous work. She introduced me to the concept of Afro futurism: imagine Blade Runner meets Mad Max in a parallel universe in the middle of the African continent! It’s an incredible and mystical idea, with a lot of symbolism, and it became a key inspiration for the music video for Lopes’s Espelho. It was also great to shoot choreographed performances by professional dancers for the first time – a beautiful and poetic art form that I can’t wait to film again.

ASFF: Your upcoming project, Egípcios, will be communicated through Brazilian sign language. What kind of response do you think you will get from the film?
DG: I believe that this short film could be a great way to introduce the deaf community to the cinematic environment. When a deaf person goes to the movies he is always reading the subtitles. To your knowledge, how many films are communicated through sign language? The project will feature solely the Brazilian sign language and seeks to create a universal story that any individual, deaf or not, can appreciate. I believe that gestures expressing emotions such as anger, love and frustration, are truly universal and that everybody in the world can connect them. I think that the deaf community in Brazil will really enjoy watching a film where they don’t need to read subtitles; a film through which they can feel the whole story with images and signs.

ASFF: As a previous ASFF winner, what did the experience offer to you and your filmmaking career?
DG: The experience of being at ASFF and the award of Best Artists’ film opened up a wealth of international opportunities, collaborations and co-productions. A few years ago, I could never imagine that one day I would travel the world with my productions, meeting people from all over and working together. Through these experiences my outlook on the way I work has changed. I could write for a actor who lives abroad, or go to another country to direct a film from another writer. There are so many possibilities and I’m very happy to say that it was in York, UK, that everything happened for me outside of Brazil.

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Danilo Godoy’s Forgotten Memories from the End of the World won Best Artists’ Film at ASFF in 2014.

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1. Still from Wide Armored Eyes.