Bill a film as a ‘gay Brazilian incest love story’ and you’re guaranteed a strong reaction from queer viewers.
So it is for writer and director Aluizio Abranches, whose 2009 drama From Beginning To End — detailing the tender yet forbidden love between two impossibly attractive young half-brothers — sold out sessions at last year’s Melbourne Queer Film Festival and has since proved divisive viewing for audiences worldwide.
For a film with such an explosive topic at its core, From Beginning To End is for the most part a quiet and gentle love story, with brothers Thomas and Francisco (played by Rafael Cardoso and João Gabriel Vasconcellos) encountering little opposition to their passionate relationship.
“The conflict of the film is more with the spectator — it’s not in the film itself that much,” Abranches told the Star Observer from his home in Rio de Janeiro.
“It’s more about who is watching it, and everyone reacts in different ways.
“I treated it as a very normal love story, which some people have criticised. But that’s what I think it is — I didn’t want to judge the brothers.”
And while it plays out like some forbidden fantasy from the recesses of the gay brain, Abranches said the film had found support in some unlikely places.
“The film has been very well received and understood by women. Middle-aged mothers seem to be really moved by it.”
Abranches said the strongest negative reactions had been from gay men, particularly those over 40.
“I think maybe it’s because they’ve had to fight so much for rights and recognition that they find it too unreal to have a family like the brothers do, where [being gay] is not a big deal. But that was my experience. I had very supportive parents when I came out.”
Abranches spent almost a year getting to know his two leads before they started filming.
He said it helped when filming the several intense nude scenes required of the pair, including a naked slow-dancing dream sequence (yes, you read right).
“There were still some scenes they were nervous about. The naked dancing took some time to film, and we stopped for a while because they were not very comfortable.
“There were some awkward moments when they were making love, and they had to be naked in front of a crew. Two beautiful men naked in bed embracing and kissing — I think even the most heterosexual guy would find that slightly exciting!”
info: From Beginning To End is out now on DVD through Love Films.