My work is a response to the way popular culture represents masculinity and gender. Billions of people all over the world pay $10 (or the equivalent local currency) to see heroes like John Wayne, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis battle personal demons as they withstand relentless beatings, explosions and various temptations. They are always triumphant in the end. These men have become icons of our culture, role models, and men to be emulated and quoted, “That’ll be the day.” “Hasta la vista, baby.” “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.” These heroes create an unrealistic vision of ideal masculinity.
At their core, Westerns and Action movies are personal psychological dramas about an internal struggle with masculinity. Will the hero make the right decision? Will he be strong enough? Will his personal relationships develop? In a traditional Hollywood narrative the answer to these questions is always yes. Real life, on the other hand, is much more subtle. Good and evil are not easy to distinguish. The right path isn’t clearly laid out, and most of the time there is no path at all. My work stands in relation to these tropes. I strip away the formulaic plot devices, action, sex and of Hollywood narrative, and portray stories of average men dealing with everyday experiences.
I shoot my movies in a Cinéma vérité style. Italian Neorealism, French New Wave, and Brazilian Cinema Novo have a strong influence on my work. Movies like Bicycle Thieves, The 400 Blows and Bye Bye Brazil all depict poor and working class males struggling to find their identities and live up to their masculine roles in societies that have become increasingly alienating. I work with the kind of classical framing and editing used in Westerns and Action films, but foreground the mundane and everyday moments of men’s daily lives rather than moments of high drama. It is in this ordinary unfolding that I find the painful and moving drama of contemporary masculinity.