the eastern beat

Márcio-André de Sousa Haz

writer &  director

"Márcio-André de Sousa Haz is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, performer, and visual artist born in Rio de Janeiro and currently living in Budapest. 

He began his career as a film director attending classes held by Roman Coppola, Asghar Farhadi, Stephan Elliott, and Christopher Hampton. Since then, he has worked on short movies, documentaries, advertising, and music videos for bands such as They Might Be Giants and Besh o Drom. 

He is the winner of the Medina Media 4K Award for the Best Director (Festival de Málaga) for the short film, "Cozy for Two at Kuleshov St." and was awarded first prize at FEST - Pitching Forum (2018, Portugal) in the feature-length category. His short "The First Time I Saw Francis Taylor He Was in Slow Motion" won twelve awards in international festivals, including best director and best movie at 48HFP, and Best Experimental Short at Sardinia Film Festival. 

He shot reports to Deutsche Welle about Syrian refugees in Hungary and a documentary about Maria Kodama, writer, and wife of Jorge Luis Borges. 

As a writer and artist, Sousa Haz’s texts have been translated into more than twenty languages. He gave lectures and performances in London, Paris, New York, Moscow, Venice, Rotterdam, Lisbon, Lima, Buenos Aires, and many other cities. After reading poems in the ghost town of Pripyat, Chernobyl, in 2007, Sousa Haz became the first "radioactive poet" in the world.

His book "Poemas apócrifos de Paul Valéry" was nominated for the prestigious Portuguese language prizes Jabuti and Oceanos, and recently became the subject of a Ph.D. thesis. He was the holder of the grant Fundação Biblioteca Nacional in 2009 for the essay "Poética das Casas." In 2017, his "Ensaios radioativos" (2008) was adapted into a play and staged at Teatro Miguel Falabella, in Rio de Janeiro".

Where are you from and what brought you to Budapest?

I come from Brazil, but before moving to Budapest I lived in Lisbon, Portugal, and Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I visited Hungary two times - the first time in 2012 when I was invited to give a lecture at the university. The second time was in 2013,  I was also invited by the university to give a lecture during the Portuguese language day. That was when I met my ex-girlfriend and I decided to stay here. 

What surprised you the most when you came here?

I really love the city - its size and beauty, it’s liveable and not expensive. Hungarians are really cultured, they have a lot of literature and theatres! What I miss though is the Mediterannean vibe, people being more open, easy going and smiling a lot. 

What do you do?

I am a writer and since I moved to Budapest I am pursuing my dream to be a film director. When I lived in Spain and Portugal it was convenient to keep being a writer because I spoke the languages and I was connected to the literary universe. When I moved to Budapest I couldn't show my writing to anyone because of the language barrier, but it finally gave me the push to start making movies. I made my first movie in Santiago, "Artaud in Compostela", but it was more of a literary and visual experiment. When I moved to Budapest I was more in touch with filmmakers, actors, producers and it pushed me to make my dream come true. I've been a director  for 7 years now.

How did you move from literature to cinema?

I always loved both movies and literature, since I was really young. Actually, movies were the apple of my eye. But it wasn't that easy to study movies twenty years ago if you came from the suburbs of Rio like me. There was only one public university for filmmaking in a 12-million city and it was extremely hard to get in. Also we didn't have the digital revolution yet and a film camera was unimaginable for young people. That’s why I studied literature and how I started writing. Writing was what I could do at that time and it was catching, because I got quite successful fast as a young writer. I was travelling around the world, giving lectures and performances. I had my writing translated to over 20 languages. But after fifteen years of writing I wasn’t happy, I was still dreaming of making movies. 

When I started making movies in Budapest I realised I wouldn't be able to both write and make movies at the same time because directing takes a lot of time and energy, so I started refusing invitations to literary festivals and started from zero. It was a risky move. The writer's world is a kind of a niche and people start to forget you when you disappear, you lose contacts and easily enter into oblivion. It wasn't easy and I had really bad moments, but the experience I had making books was exactly what kept me going on. I knew I started making movies late, but deep inside I knew that if I kept doing it things would start happening at some point.

Was art part of your family? Where did it come from in your life?

I really don't know. I never met my father, he died when I was one. My mum owned a small business in the suburbs of Rio and in my family nobody was into art really. One of my older cousins used to read books to me and other kids in the family and maybe that was the time I started to like stories. I was around 10 when I started writing short stories. I remember seeing a book with Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven” at my grandma’s house - I read it and even though I didn't understand it really I was fascinated by the words. I think my love for movies started when I saw Spielberg’s ET in the theatre when I was 7 and I fell in love with his work. Spielberg was my childhood hero, even if today I am not a great fan.

How did you get connected with the world of film makers here in Budapest?

I suppose I was lucky. My girlfriend at that time knew a lot of artists because of her work and she introduced me to some of them. She ended up being my producer for a while. I had to do my own research, invest money, and ask favors in order to make my first movies. It took around 1 year to make “Man in the Crowd''. Postproduction took 4 years. This movie was my film school. I made all the mistakes that a first-time director can make and I managed to fix most of them. The film was not exactly what I had in mind, but I think it is quite good for a first attempt. In the meantime I made a movie that got an award in Hungary - “The first time I saw Francis Taylor he was in slow motion”. It’s a short movie created for the 48 Hour Film Project Budapest in 2016. We made it in two days! It was amazing! We got a lot of prizes around the world. I was invited to go to Filmapalooza in Seattle, I met so many talented people there. So new movies came. Back then I was experimenting, now I'm entering the advertising industry. What I like about it is that I can practice a lot and I can have a proper crew. Being on the set empowers me, I  can shoot for 18 hours without getting tired. I like to immerse in the work. Also, with the commercial work, I need to learn a new language - popular, more communicative and stay creative and original at the same time. 

Are you working on any personal projects right now? 

I'm writing my feature film. So far it’s the project of my life. I am glad that now I have an agent in Paris and a French producer who is working on it. They are truly committed to the project and this is very motivating. Also, I have a Hungarian friend based in Germany who is a priceless advisor. I can't talk too much about the project, but there’s lots of research involved. It’s a historical movie, based on real events that happened in Belgrade after Bosnian war. It is about a war criminal and his victims. I have been researching it for 5 years, visiting Sarajevo and Belgrade and meeting the people involved in the story.

Why this story?

I read about it for the first time in a newspaper many years ago and I was immediately drawn to it. Balkan war always interested me, even if it was something I saw on TV or in movies. I love this specific story because it is full of passion, manipulation and human miserability. It is a story about the nature of evil, about totalitarianism, about ethics, and about choosing between bad or correct decisions. It is also about losing faith and finding new ways to keep going. My characters are survivors, like everybody else, and use everything they have to don’t give up on what they believe. With the political situation in many countries these days, this story is also a good reminder of what can happen when extremists gain power.

Where would you like to be in 5 years?

I would like to have my film released, running the world, making its mark, while I would be working on my next projects. I have plenty of ideas. As my main background is literature, I really like the literary feeling of movies, like Godard or Jarmusch. On the other hand I was writing very visual poems, like e.e. cummings. I would love to keep making projects that would let me combine the two worlds - words and visuality, in a more experimental way.

More about Marcio's work on his website 

October 2020

Photos: Anna Jopp

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