Director Pedro Pires Interview (Alexander the fool)

Creative Documentary Center

The Peloponnisos International Doc Film Festival's purpose has always been to introduce the audience of Peloponnese some very special films from all over the world. This year according to the difficult circumstances it was decided that there will be a hybrid version of the festival with an ONLINE release in February and a live premiere in May. In this situation we asked volunteers and festival staff to interview the directors of the ONLINE program to bring them closer with the audience even if they couldn't have met in the theaters. Behind the scenes information, personal stories and more in depth approach to the films are available through these interviews. The interviews of the films included in the "Claiming Freedom" tribute have been conducted by the students of Theater Studies of University of Peloponnese, as one part of our collaboration with the University.


Pedro Pires, director of Alexander the Fool, talks about his experiences, his difficulties and personal reasons for doing this film, in a video interview in this link.

In addition Pedro replied to some more burning questions in an email interview bellow:

Why did you decide to tell a story about a person with psychosis in your last film? How did you come up with that idea?

First, both my parents are psychiatrists.So, I will let you guess the effect it could had on me as a child. Second, I was hired to work in a psychiatric institution, as summer student's job, then I discovered a entire new reality. I was stunned, impressed and inspired by what I saw. Iwas spending more time speaking with the patients than with the personnel. I liked the genuine quality of their personality, the poetry of the way they spoke, the level of humor they displayed. I was thinking: they didn't learn to put a mask, to play the game, like the rest of the society. That's why they are so touching and real, like children. And I said: one day I will make a film that convey all of this. The singularity, the poetry and the humor. Documentary on schizophrenia rarely talk about those things.

When did you meet Alexandre and at what point did you decide you wanted to tell his story? Was he apprehensive or did he decide to jump in right away?

We made an audition in the psychiatric institution where I previously worked and we found Alexandre at the end of the day. He was literally the last one. Like, do we have time for one more? Ok what's your name? -"Alexandre". And he started speaking about a trip on a boat where he became crazy...lost his mind... lost everything...became schizophrenic. I was thinking: That's it. That's our guy. He is charming, funny and unique. He could bring the essence of what I want to convey
for this film. Alexandre was very pleased and motivated to be the center of this film even if he had some apprehensions "on what people will say" in his head or for real, as he never knows. After that, it was a matter of following him and living in his shoes. Learning everything we could as documentarists
do. Discovering her grand-mother...and the rest of his family. Pushing a little bit here and there, but not too much because they are not actors. They can't play and say what we want. We have to let them be who they are. The real challenge, other than hoping this mashup of various shots will make sense one day, was to be sure that every participant will remain on board all along. Some of them were often hospitalized due to have stopped their medication. By far the most troubling event concerns Veronique, the girlfriend of Alexandre in the film and in the real life too. She was always telling him to stop taking his medication. "You don't need
this. Do it cold turkey! You're not brave enough!" And one day, Alex called to tell me that Veronique had committed suicide. That was such a devastating news, to say the least. That reminded me, in a very crude manner, how the suffering of these people is a heavy burden to bear, especially when they stop taking their medication. And Alexandre has been so strong through all of that. I'm so proud of him.

As this was an experimental film for you- were you smitten with the process? Do you agree with the statement that director is making a movie not just to
tell a story, but also to tell or to explore something about yourself?

I agree. Even if it was a documentary on somebody else's life, I was focusing on the things that were very close to me or similar to certain experiences I had.
An isolated character, a little paranoiac, trying to find love, who doesn't want to make much compromises, who realize his family should have a greater place in his day to day life! That's me. That's Alex. And maybe that's you, too! I guess that's what makes a film somewhat "universal" in its comprehension or appreciation. I made this film in Quebec with no screenplay, in our local reality and people everywhere from Russia to the U.S. back to Bhutan likes the film and identify with its content. I have to admit that Alex is a very likable character too!

Do you plan on approaching future filmmaking in this manner?

I'm doing an animation film for now but I don't exclude to make another documentary with exactly the same approach: Using the real life to make
something out of a fiction. I like to think documentary is a little like making a sculpture out of recuperation. Like the famous Picasso's Bull Head out of bicycle seat. You don't create bicycle parts but you make bull's heads. That's what documentary is about.


We would like to thank Pedro Pires for his wonderful interview, don't forget to check out the film Alexander the Fool that will be available February 6th at 00:00 (GR time) on this link .



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