The screenplay for “ESTÔMAGO – A Gastronomic Story” was developed in an interesting manner and is a story worth telling. In 2003, the writer Lusa Silvestre sent Marcos Jorge three unpublished short stories dealing with food. One of them immediately caught Jorge’s eye. It narrated the story of man who managed to increase his respect among other prison inmates by cooking for his cellmates. Marcos Jorge very much liked the story and suggested to Lusa that they adapt it. But as the story was too short to develop into a feature, they had to come up with more. And that’s how Marcos and Lusa created a whole story for the protagonist of “before” he went to jail and the screenplay was written.
In the brainstorming stages, before writing the screenplay, they realized that they could structure the film in an interesting manner with nuances mixing the “before” with the protagonist’s “prison time,” making the two phases of the tale (which were practically two separate stories with the same character) collectively precipitate the grand finale.
From the beginning, the two realized the great potential of what they were creating: a universal story that can be understood by any type of person, mixing power, sex and cooking in a visceral and organic fashion.
Another interesting fact is how they arrived at the “ending” of the story. After several days writing, the screenplay was taking shape, becoming more and more consistent, but the ending was not resolved. They simply did not know how to end it. One night, Marcos mentioned their impasse to Cláudia da Natividade.
She suggested a strong, surprising end. At the time, Marcos scoffed at the idea, said it couldn’t work, that it would be too much for the story and that they could not end it like that. The next day in his office, Marcos reconsidered and realized that her ending was sensational. He called Lusa and told her Claudia’s suggestion. Lusa reacted exactly as Marcos had: that it couldn’t work, that it would be too much, etc… That same day, Lusa reconsidered: the ending had to be that one, obviously.
The film’s title also has its own story. Marcos and Lusa were not satisfied with title “Presos pelo Estômago” (Imprisoned by the Stomach), the name of the short story the movie was inspired by. The first name chosen was “A Story of Gastronomy.” But not even that name was very convincing, they needed a stronger a title that was compatible with the tone of the story they were writing. Then they decided to go simply with “Estômago” (Stomach). It was not accepted immediately, but it ended up sticking. Stomach obviously refers to digestion, but also to all of the metaphors associated with it: a punch in the stomach, stomaching a situation, butterflies in the stomach, etc… In a quick study, the authors realized that surprisingly after 100 years of cinema, no one had the courage to use this terribly common name as a title of a film. Perhaps due to the many obvious associations it conjures up. But the title “Estômago” reflects the viscerality of the story and works.
The first version of the script was written very quickly, in something like 30 days, because of a deadline to participate in a Request for Proposals. But it contained all the fundamental elements that would end up in the film. But afterwards, the script underwent several revisions, more or less ten. The two never stopped working on it. The most important phases were during the pre-production, when the authors were gathering suggestions from contributors linked to the film like Luiz Mendes Jr. who spent over 30 years behind bars; during rehearsals, when actors shared their ideas, especially dialogs; during shooting, A scene was even written one night and shot the next; during editing; and even during sound editing, some of Nonato’s voice overs were rewritten. A lot of work, but well worth it.
In 2005, Lusa Silvestre published the book “Pólvora, Gorgonzola & Alecrim”, a collection of eight short stories about food, which includes “Presos pelo Estômago.”