Estômago portugues
  • apresentação
  • sinopse
  • roteiro
  • dialogos
  • direção
  • produção
  • equipe
  • elenco
Man is the only animal that cooks. That alone is enough to justify a film like Estômago – A Gastronomic Story.

I love to cook. I learned how to in Italy, where I lived in the 90s. the culinary arts are taken serious there and it's widely appreciated culturally: there are practically no Italians that don’t cook. There I learned to respect meal times as sacred, a precious encounter among aficionados. From an artistic standpoint, I firmly believe in seeking out truth in the most simple, basic, essential and ancestral aspects of human existence. Eating ranks high on the list of those truths. It was upon this realization that making a film about food became almost a necessity for me.

In my first meetings with screen writer Lusa Silvestre, we decided that Estômago would be an ode to gastronomy, but not the refined, cultured type that is typical of international films on the subject: what interested us was “down-home gastronomy,” the cooking found in neighborhood diners. Generally, culinary films deal with haute cuisine. Take for example Vatel, Like Water for Chocolate, Simply Martha or Babette’s Feast. Even The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover is set in a fine restaurant. In Estômago, what we wanted to show was the beauty of common dishes and their preparation in conditions that are frequently precarious. But we still wanted spectators to leave the film hungry.

At the same time, following the great tradition of Italian comedy (which this film certainly is akin to) this film uses a light trivial theme to cast a critical eye on Brazilian life, moving spectators to laughter, tears and reflection all at the same time. One important facet of Estômago is that despite its fabulous appearance, it is a very realistic film, especially when it comes to the life of the protagonists. This is worth mentioning because in doing Estômago I sought to make a film that portrayed the life of miserably impoverished people without being paternalistic. Even the poorest people, have fun together, make jokes and enjoy life. It’s not all tears and suffering. And cooking is certainly one of the few pleasures that are accessible to almost all, including the miserably poor. Certainly, cooking is the only art form that accessible to almost everyone, except the chronically hungry, of course.

This critical eye is evident: first Nonato is practically incarcerated by the owner of a bar where he works in exchange for food and shelter, without the right to a salary; later, he goes to work – truthfully, with much more dignity - for the owner of an Italian restaurant, whose playful character does not hide his prejudice in referring to him as “paraiba” or “ceara,” although Nonato constantly affirms that he is from neither of the two northeastern states. In the cell, the other prisoners treat him the same way, adding another prejudiced insult in calling him “parmalat.” These “crossed prejudices” are not the film’s main themes, but are there obviously for spectators to reflect upon. And to laugh as well, since intelligent laughter is the best form of criticism.

Estômago accompanies the protagonist’s journey to knowledge about the system. And it does so in almost cruel manner. No one notices, evidently, but Estômago begins at the protagonist’s mouth and ends at his rear. Just like the digestive system, which transforms everything, all delights into excrement. In this manner, Nonato’s path through society replicates food’s journey in our body. The implications of that metaphor are for the spectator to decide.