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Coraci Bartman Ruiz and Julio Matos
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October 25, 2022
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A Tale of love, trans* rights and representation - Germino Pétalas No Asfalto

During everybody’s perfect 2022 we sat down with Brazilian director duo Coraci Bartman Ruiz and Julio Matos. A touching talk about their recent documentary (Germino Pétalas no Asfalto), Brazil and parenthood.

Naïma Stark: So, you've been here for Everybody's perfect since last week; how has it been?
Coraci BARTMAN RUIZ: It's been Amazing. It's our first time in Geneva. We got here on Wednesday because we did another screening with Antenne LGBTI. It's a group connected to the church. They promoted a screening of another film of ours, Limiar, which was the opening film at Everybody's perfect last year.
NS: Did you see another screening? What did you like?
CBR: So we chose either Spanish, Portuguese, or English films. But we wanted to see the opening movie TYTÖT TYTÖT TYTÖT. It's like a teenage drama. And then we watched Finlandia, which is in Mexico, beautiful. Watching films at this festival is lovely but having a chance to talk to and meet people from everywhere is great too.
NS: Your movie Limiar was featured last year at the festival. It was intimate and mainly focused on your family and son. You started this movie at the same time as Germino Petalas No Asfalto. How did it start? Was it supposed to be like part two of the first one? What was the vision you had for beginning those two projects?
CBR: We started both simultaneously because we didn't know what would happen in the process. And for both, we began without funds; we followed what was happening in our lives. So, our son has this friend, Jack, the main character of Germino. And Jack was starting his transition process. And Noah, our son, told us: "I have a friend; he's starting his transition process." And we asked if he would allow us to follow him during the process. Noah talked to Jack, and he agreed. So, we started filming him, doing interviews, but we didn't know what would happen.
Julio MATOS: At some point, we decided to stop filming Noah for Limiar and then start to edit it, but we started filming the other one, the Petalas. So, in the latter, we see Noah already doing hormones. In Limiar, he was in the process of starting hormone therapy. So, in that sense, it's a continuation: you now see what happened to our son after the first film, Yeah.
NS: Germino Petalas No Asfalto is about Jack, his life, and his environment. But one thing that really surprises the audience is the scenes of «the witch.» Do they know each other from before? How did you decide, ok, she's going to be in the movie?
JM: We met Helena, “The witch,” and when we realized, wow, she's really empowering. She brings to the film an essential perspective; she represents a lot. At that moment, she was not in the process that Jack was in, trying to do the whole transition from woman to man. She was in the middle and was okay with her body. She was no longer trying to do surgeries or take hormones. She used to take them but stopped as she was happy with herself. We thought it would be necessary for Jack to have this reference of a Trans* person living a different experience and having another relationship with their body. It was exciting to meet her and see that there are other ways of being transgender.
CBR: It was essential to build a sense of community in this film. So that's why we decided to follow Jack and invest a little time in his friends and secondary characters in the narrative. Because for us, what was important to see was how important it is to build these safe spaces, solidarity spaces, and politics. And how essential that is.
NS: We got the sense of community in the movie, and it was also tackling the subject of deconstruction a lot. Transitioning is not black or white; How did you go about the topic?
JM: This is something that we learned. What you saw in the film is what we realized during filming. Even though we're not very traditional parents, we didn't know much about transgender people when our son started his transition. So, we had to learn a lot. And sometimes, you have only one reference, like our son in the beginning. And then we started to realize that there's not just one type of transition, and transgender people are not only young people. You have people our age, artists, engineers, and many different types of transgender people in society. And also, what a transition means for a white middle-class person is one thing; for a black person, it is entirely different, especially in Brazil. Where, you know, black people suffer independently of being transgender or not.
NS: It’s such a great movie, and I think it's so beautiful. Your son is fortunate to have parents like you interested in the process and the world evolving around it. It's so touching. Thank you so much.
JM: The film has a scene where they start this LGBTQ organization in the city. And it's a scene where they are inside a car talking. It's a really short scene. But when they're leaving the car to get to this meeting, you don't see it, but you can hear someone saying: "Oh, can you donate a little bit of money for the house without prejudice? We need some money to help with the house."
So, this is not there just by chance; this dialogue is there because we found a shelter in our city to protect transgender women on the street, most of them with drug problems and prostitution. So, while doing the second film, we learned about this and became interested. So we are now doing the research and starting to make the third film about this (laughs). So, one film leads to another. Yeah, and we're involved with this right now. It's another step forward. We're in the house, understanding what is going on with our son, and then with the friends. And now, it's a step further to understand what happens in the city with the other transgender women that don't have parents like us or the social structure.
NS: Everything is based on your love for your son. And it's, well, it’s really organic. Because you're the parents, it started with the love for your son. Are you doing this for other parents? And if not, who are you making these movies for?
JM: Well, for the first one, you can tell it's for the parents and for the people that are involved in the transition as well, but especially the parents. When we show the film to the parents, even those with no transgender children are touched. You know, if you have a son or a daughter, when seeing this, you understand lots of things about the relationship. It's a demonstration that talking to your son can heal many things. It can be a cure.
CBR: We tried to do something younger with the second film. That's why we decided to have many soundtracks that are from trans* Brazilian musicians. We invited people from the community to work with us in post-production, and they did beautiful work with images and sounds, so there is this layer of intervention directly in the movie. We tried to bring young people, to work with us to be able to talk with them than with the parents. Limiar had the role of talking to the older generations. And in this one, it was not so much addressing the parents. I don't think that we at the beginning had a particular target. The documentary reflected our process of learning. What do you think about it?
JM: Yeah, because I know some filmmakers that put this question before even starting the idea of shooting, and during the whole process, they will keep that in mind.
 For us, we got involved in something and wanted to record it, and then the film's process created the story. And I don't know, and it's more an artwork than a piece of communication, you know. It's just like we want to express this if someone gets interested. Perfect. It's more about saying something, whatever happens.
CBR: Yeah, in Limiar, if you don't know anything about trans* matter, it could be very educational. You learn from the beginning. And in this second film is not from the start. So, I think Limiar was able to talk to people like older people. Our generation, generations of my mother, etc. If you don't know anything, it's more complicated.
JM: You need some pre-requirements. Like you have to understand a little bit.
CBR: Because they are questioning - for example, Helena "the witch" says that she made this cream in a class it's, and she looks like a woman, and she says, oh, and I put it in my penis. So, someone that is not doesn't know cannot really understand. Wow. What what's going on? And she's telling it very openly. Yes. Like she's not a trans woman who doesn't talk about her penis. It's a feminine penis. So, it could be kind of confusing for an older person. So I think it's more for people thinking about all this diversity.
Inside the trans community, you can have your own choices :
-       It doesn't matter what it is.
-       It's okay.
So you can, if you want to, go through the process and have your surgery or not. You can be whatever you want. This is what they show.
JM: We presented a film in our city and invited Helena to the stage to say a few words, and she said: “I'm delighted to be here to be part of this film because we are transgender women, are tired of being depicted just in movies that talks about violence against us and how our rights are neglected. This film is also about our empowerment, our celebration, a celebration of our bodies.” So this is something that we tried to see how it is possible, even in Brazil, to have a wealthy and a good life being a transgender man or woman.


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