We don’t ask our readers to support causes here at Rhyme et Reason but if something is worthy we are always willing to make an exception. Such is Looking at the Stars (Olhando pras estrelas)–a USC thesis film by student filmmaker Alexandre Peralta about São Paulo’s first and only ballet school for the blind. The film, which is in need of funding (*cough* *cough*) will document the lives of founder Fernanda Bianchini and her students as they prepare to perform, for the first time, at São Paulo’s incredibly prestigious Municipal Theatre (Theatro Municipal).
The title comes from Fernanda Bianchini’s advice that a ballerina should always be looking at the stars, even if she can’t see them. We’ll pause for you to dry your eyes.
We spoke with the director, Alexandre Peralta, about the project earlier this month. See what he has to say!
Rhyme et Reason: Can you briefly tell us how Looking at the Stars came about?
Alexandre Peralta: Five years ago I read an article in a magazine about this ballet school. I wanted to make a documentary about but I had no experience. So the idea of making this documentary stayed in my mind. Then in one of my first classes at USC we had to pitch ideas for docs and I pitched this one. The reaction from the class was so good that it really encouraged me to keep thinking about it. Then after editing a documentary in class at USC, I decided that I really wanted to make this film as my thesis project.
Rhyme et Reason: Why ballet?
Alexandre: To be honest I don’t know much about ballet. I’ve been learning a lot about it because of this documentary. Ballet is really fascinating and the more I learn about the dance, more impressed I am with these girls being able to dance.
Rhyme et Reason: How did you meet Fernanda Bianchini?
Alexandre: I met Fernanda the first time I visited the school. She’s been always really nice and helpful. It’s amazing to think that she started teaching these girls when she was only 15, it’s hard to imagine a teenage girl deciding to use her spare time to face the challenge of teaching ballet for the blind. This is basically her life now and she’s done this work as a volunteer.
Rhyme et Reason: What do you foresee being your greatest challenges?
Alexandre: I think that filming in São Paulo will be a great challenge. São Paulo is huge and a really challenging city and we really want to be able to film these people outside of the dance school. We are going to film a lot on the street. We want to follow Geyza [a dancer] on her way to the ballet school, she takes two hours everyday to get there and she needs to use public transportation all by herself.
Rhyme et Reason: Is it true some of the crew is learning Portuguese in advance of filming?
Alexandre: The crew is learning Portuguese. I think that it’s important that they can at least speak basic Portuguese to talk to the girls at the school. And it shows how everyone is committed to this project.
Rhyme et Reason: Will the documentary be produced in both English and Portuguese? Or subtitled?
Alexandre: I think that it will probably be subtitled. But I really hope that we can make a film that doesn’t need a lot of talking and the visuals can tell this beautiful story.
Rhyme et Reason: What will you do after filming wraps?
Alexandre: After we finish filming in July we are going straight to post production. The film will be ready beginning of 2014 and then we are going to submit it to festivals.
Rhyme et Reason: How will this benefit the school? And the girls you document?
Alexandre: The school is a non profit organization and it’s free for all the students. All the school expenses are paid with the money from donations. So the visibility that this film may bring can definitely help this important work to continue happening.
And being a really beautiful work, it really deserves a beautiful film to document it. And we are all working hard to make this film happen.
To date, the film has 164 backers and the team, including our good friend, Alexis Morrell, has raised nearly $9,000. They’re a long ways from $16,000, however–which they need by 4:51pm EST, 5 February!
Please support Looking at the Stars (Olhando pras Estrelas) in any way that you can.