“My point was to pose a question to society: what is truly pornographic and obscene? A dick? Sex? Love between two people?” ~“Nova Dubai” director Gustavo Vinagre
From hardcore gay sex to being filmed having sex in his own movie, NSFW curator Adam Baran sat down with director Gustavo Vinagre on his unique vision for the full erotic scope of gay independent filmmaking and storytelling for this Indie Focus Thursday.
Adam Baran: Where did the idea for “Nova Dubai” come from?
Gustavo Vinagre: The idea of “Nova Dubai” came to me when I came back to São José dos Campos, an industrial city one hour near Sao Paulo, to live with my mom. I had been out of the country for three years, studying cinema in Cuba. To my surprise, the city was changing fast. There was an economic boom in Brazil and the neighborhood my mom lives in was being gentrified. I was shocked by the changes, and also started using the internet a lot. In Cuba, I barely had a connection. I think the film is in many ways about hyperlinking, the subjects and characters are connected in a way that is similar to navigating the web.
Why did you decide to make the film sexually explicit?
My point was to pose a question to society: what is truly pornographic and obscene? A dick? Sex? Love between two people? Or ugly buildings that serve to heat the economy and to make public spaces private, separating people? In a film festival, a guy who watched the film told me “these buildings are raping the skyline, they are like dicks raping the city”. That’s one of the ways to see it.
I totally get that. But what led to your acting in the film and having sex yourself on camera?
I decided to be part of the film because we did it with a little money that we got from a crowdfunding. I couldn’t pay an actor, and I had no time to make an actor get to this point with no money nor time. So, I thought “All my friends accepted being in the movie, I should do it also.” I figured that my exposing myself would also help my friends that acted in the film to feel comfortable.
Have your parents — one of whom appears in the film — seen it? What do they think?
Yes, they have. My mom is the film, and I showed to her. It was a bit of a shock, but she said: “Everything in the name of art”. She always gave me support.
Your film definitely blurs the line between documentary and fiction. What was the inspiration for doing this?
I am a huge fan of films that blur that line. I always liked the confusion when you ask yourself “Is this real? Did that really happen?”. I always enjoyed the documentaries by Werner Herzog, for example, “Grizzly Man”, which I watched like four times. I think it´s a political statement when you give the chance to the audience to doubt. You are basically saying “there is no truth” or at least “there are several truths”. I feel that a film is really generous to me when it makes me doubt about reality.
One of the hottest scenes in the film is the encounter with the construction worker. Can you tell me how you found him and got him to perform on camera?
The construction worker is a real actor named Dann Prates. So real that he’s a worker, such a worker that he’s an actor. I consider him brilliant in the film. In that sequence, I wanted to show the social and racial gaps in Brazilian society, and also, a bit of the machismo that is part of our culture.
Is the person who plays your boyfriend your actual boyfriend? Was that hard to manage?
No. He is just a good friend named Bruno D’Ugo. My actual boyfriend is the actor who plays the guy trying to sell us the apartment.
What prompted the incest scene where you fuck your boyfriend’s father? Was that based on something true? And who was the actor?
I think the film is about not only the construction of buildings but the construction of love and family. The logline of the film actually could be: “Is love also a construction?” I think it´s about desiring your family and also choosing the family you wanna have, and testing the limits of love and desire. I think the film is also based – with lots of ironies – on plenty of the cliched fetishes of gay imagination: such as fucking guys who look like daddies or construction workers. The scene isn’t based on a true story of mine.
The actor who plays the father is called Herman Barck. He has been a porn director for several years in Brazil, and had never acted before. His website is sacanagens.net: he was really generous by telling a bit of his own story of rape. I think I have an interest in stories of abuse, which came from my previous short film called “Film for Blind Poet” which you can see here (English subtitles in the close caption button). I’m particularly interested in how people overcome their abuses and become stronger through that.
Your film offers a commentary on gentrification and development in Brazil. Can you talk a bit more about what’s going on now, since the film has come out?
Well, after all, the economic boom we lived and all this real estate speculation, now Brazil is living an economic crisis. That is bad, but not as bad as our political crisis. Our first female president just suffered a coup, because she had many social projects that protected the poorest and minorities. Our uneducated elite was not happy with that. They just want to sell this country for the banana price. So, they made a coup, and now they started cutting all the social advances we had in the last 13 years, and also cutting all the money from culture, education, and health. We are basically living a dictatorship. Just a small example of how to retrograde this is: this new illegal government has no woman, it´s composed only by white, heterosexual, rich man.
Did you have any films that influenced “Nova Dubai”?
I had lots of films that influenced me. Harmony Korine, for example. “Il Bacio di Tosca”, by Daniel Schmid, and many others.
What’s next for you? Are you making another film like this?
I just shot two more short films, with no sex or little sex, haha. I have many different interests in cinema, some involve sex, some don’t. But I am working on another feature that will have lots and lots of explicit sex.
You feature a scene from Cockyboys in “Nova Dubai”. What’s your favorite porn of all time?
I don´t know what my favorite porn film is because I´m not a porn cinephile. I like to watch it on the internet, and I masturbate myself with it, but they pretty much look the same, and that´s why I forget about them. To remember a good porn film we need more porn with stories that are unique, not only a standardized way of filming sex. Our desires are vast, and that´s why we need a vast number of approaches to sex. I don´t want to be a standardized human being; I don´t want to have a standardized desire. But unfortunately, that is what this globalized and hyper-capitalist world is doing to us: making us uncreative people in all levels.
I have to say, though, I’m really excited to show the film in this new way of NakedSword. This film traveled around the world in cinema festivals, always from an art point of view. I’m really interested to know how porn audiences will receive it. It gives me a sense of liberty of finally having the film designated as officially “porn”. Because that was a debate that emerged in several critics and festival Q&As. People trying to defend the film by saying “it´s not actually porn.” Well, porn has never been to me something I would need to defend myself from. To me, it is much more powerful to say “This is porn. Porn can be like this also”.
The “Nova Dubai” trailer:
[Watch “Nova Dubai” at NakedSword]
Explore NakedSword Film Works
“Nova Dubai” joins “Zolushka”, “Raspberry Reich GR”, “Doors Cut Down”, “I Want Your Love.” “100 Boyfriends Mixtape,” “Hattie Goes Cruising,” and “Catharsis” at NakedSword Film Works (NSFW).