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Áurea's saga starts in 1910. While pursuing her husband's dream, she arrives at a labyrinth of sand in Maranhão, Northern Brazil. Her husband believes the land to be prosperous, but in reality Áurea is condemned to a life in this barren place, her only female company being her mother. Pregnant with a girl and dissatisfied with her destiny, she tries everything to find a way out—spending 59 years living in hope of imminent departure. Real-life mother and daughter Fernanda Montenegro (Central Station) and Fernanda Torres star in multiple roles. Directed by Andrucha Waddington (Me You Them).

 What is Inspiration?

When I saw Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Woman in the Dunes, I was totally taken by such an intimate, powerful and surreal movie which reminded me of Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel. Films that we hardly see in contemporary cinema. Films that go beyond our imagination and make us think about a human’s basic instincts.

Luis Buñuel is one of my favorite directors and his universe makes us believe in the impossible, and encourages us to create unexpected worlds and environments. My first kiss with my first girlfriend was during a screening of That Obscure Object of Desire in 1984 in Rio de Janeiro. I’ll never forget how that film made me an adolescent and for the first time I fell in love. Films have the power to change our lives, to make us think about things we never dared think before; films transport us to the unknown. This power comes from the meaning of each film and how each life we see on the screen relays all the experiences that we have had in our history, creating a connection with our memories, feelings and emotions.

The idea that becomes a film can come from a book, a painting, a dream, a scene in the streets, an article in the newspaper, an object that makes us think about something. The inspiration is the strangest feeling that activates the intuition and from that moment on we know that this idea will become a movie.

The story of The House of Sand was developed from a photograph of an abandoned house buried in the dunes of the sandy plains of Northeastern Brazil. I never saw this photograph but Luiz Carlos Barreto, upon his return from Ceará, told me the story behind the photograph and suggested I make a film about a woman who lived in this house who had to fight against the sand her entire life. That same night I had a dream mixing this image with Teshigahara’s images and when I woke up the next day, I called Barreto and we decided in that moment that this film should be written—and for two of Brazil’s most acclaimed actresses, Fernanda Montenegro and her real-life daughter, Fernanda Torres. This is the first time these two actresses play main roles in the same film and more than that they share their characters across the 20th century (from 1910 to 1969) in this remote and amazing desert in Maranhão State. Five years after that dream I can say that Barreto had an intuition.