Little Secret (Brazil)

by Ana Maria Bahiana November 5, 2016
Scene from the foreign film Little Secret, Brazil

Ocean Films/ Schrumann Filmes

Director David Schurmman had a very unusual upbringing: born in Brazil, he graduated college in New Zealand and, between one landmark and the other, spent most of his life on a boat, crossing the Earth’s oceans with his family. Little Secret, his first feature film after a career in TV and documentaries, showcases this very special point of view and beyond: it is, in essence, the story of his family. “They say you need, first, to tell stories you know”, Schurmann says. “I had been looking everywhere for inspiration for my first feature, and finally I realized it had been staring me in the face the whole time.”

Little Secret captures a crucial moment in the Schurmanns’ journey, when a series of interlocking events leads to a new addition to the family: Kat, a girl of Brazilian/New Zealander heritage that will have a life-changing impact on everyone around her. David – himself a character in the story - chose Kat’s point of view to frame the narrative, infusing it with the light, colors and vast expanses of a life at sea. “The strongest memory I have of my sister is her joy and her strength”, Schurmann says. “I wanted to share them with the audience, enabling them to experience life as an adventure, just like Kat.”

To achieve that goal Schurmann gathered a cast and crew as international as his own background: Brazilian film and TV stars Julia Lemmertz and Marcello Antony play his (and Kat’s) explorer parents, Heloisa and Vilfredo Schurmann; New Zealand actor Erroll Shand (Slow West) and Irish-born actress Fionnula Flanagan (The Others, A Christmas Carol, The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood) round up the cast around newcomer Mariana Goulart, chosen, after hundreds of auditions, to play Kat. Peruvian-born cinematographer Inti Briones (The Loneliest Planet, Sundance winner To Kill a Man), German-born Mexican production designer Brigitte Broch (Romeo + Juliet, The Reader, 21 Grams) and US-based Brazilian score composer Antonio Pinto are a few of the multinational hands on deck for Little Secret (which is also Brazil's official entry for this year's Academy Awards).

“I wanted the film to be Brazilian, with international production values”, Schurmann says. “I don’t think I could tell this story any other way. It is at the same time a universal and a very personal story.”