So Hard to Forget follows the daily life of English Literature
teacher Julia as she struggles with the breakdown of a
relationship. We follow Julia as she rediscovers life and learns
how to fall in love again. DIVA met up with the director Malu de
Martino to find out how this daring Brazilian film came to
Can you summarise the film for DIVA readers who won't
have seen it yet?
If you asked me what the film is about, I would say loss. It's
about break-ups. When you end a relationship most of us feel the
same- rejection. We are not prepared to deal with rejection, so
everyone's reaction is different. The film is about the reaction of
the main character, Julia. This is what the film is about, except
for the fact that she's a lesbian. This is no difference though and
in the film she has no problem about being a lesbian. Her problem
is being rejected.
What inspired the story behind So Hard to
So Hard to Forget is based on a Brazilian book called Hard to
Forget- Nearly English Notes. The writer translates English
literature to Portuguese. She translated some of Virginia Woolf and
Emily Bronte's books. She is a Brazilian person who is really
connected with British culture. I read it and instantly thought it
would make a good film.
Is the film linked to your personal experiences at
Every adult in this world, if they haven't been through this
then they will. You just have to face it, that's the reality.
Sometimes we think that it's going to be forever, but there is no
forever. That's what made making the film really interesting for
What would be your advice to Julia, the
My advice is to live it and face it. You have to cry, you have
to despair. You have to do everything that you have to do. The only
thing I think is a problem is to keep it locked up and not to
The film being a lesbian movie, was it difficult to be
people to distribute it and to pay attention?
It's not difficult at all, especially overseas. It's my first
film being launched in the foreign market and the first company
that saw the film was immediately interested. That's the around
world though, Brazil is different. We really had some difficulties
in Brazil, not with distributors, but with the exhibitors. Big
exhibitors don't want to show a film with a lesbian suffering on
the big screen. They think they already have comedies and violent
films, so why use their theatres to show a film like this. It's not
a big film and we never expected millions, so for this type of film
it's doing quite well.
We got funding, but it was pretty hard. Ana Paula (pictured),
who plays the main character, she is a very famous actress in
Brazil. She makes soap operas and plays very glamorous female
characters. She is very well-known, so when I was looking for
funding I would say Ana Paula is doing a new film. They would say
that's great, what's the film about. I would tell them the film is
about loss from the point of view of a lesbian. Most of them would
start to cough and say, ok let's talk next year. It's difficult to
find a company who wants to associate their name with this kind of
film, but we managed.
How did you persuade such a famous Brazilian actress to
feature in your film?
She's a very beautiful woman and is very well-known for being
glamorous. Real actresses and actors like challenges. To take that
woman, loved by every man in Brazil, and to portray a lesbian
suffering on the big screen. She loved the idea.
What has the reaction to the film been like in
In Brazil women haven't seen films like this before, with a
lesbian portrayed as a normal woman. I have a huge number of people
following my blog, writing about my film and making YouTube remakes
of scenes. Young women relate to the student character, older women
to Julia and Helena. It's become like a cult and it's amazing.
Independent lesbian films have a bit of a reputation as
a genre for being downbeat, with characters often facing
difficulties and self-doubt. Would you agree and do you see this
Most lesbian films show sexual conflict- I'm lesbian so I'm
different. What I think is changing now, including So Hard to
Forget, is that characters are being made without that conflict.
They could be lesbian, gay, whatever and it is just a matter of
feelings, not sexual orientation. I'm very happy with that change
because there are less stereotypes. Sometimes you need it for
context, but now the audiences can accept that a woman is a lesbian
and she's a beautiful woman.
The film Imagine Me and You shows two beautiful girls and people
love that film. It's a matter of falling in love, it is a girl, but
it could be a man. I think that this is the future for lesbian and
gay film. We have to show lesbian characters because people have to
get used to them as ordinary people, not something different.
Your background is in documentary making, why the
I've worked in television for almost twenty years and I like
television. I'm very happy making documentaries, I'm making one
right now. In 2000 I decided to make a docu-drama, mixing fact and
fiction. That was my first time working with actors and after that
I got really interested in acting and working with them- how to get
their feelings from the bottom of their bodies and to make them
show them. In Brazil it's impossible to live just doing feature
films because we don't have the resources or time.
What is your opinion of the mainstream film
The mainstream works to get audiences into the movie theatre. If
mainstream films were only on TV we would never have movie theatres
again. By getting people to go to these films it encourages people
to go to independent films and art films. You could not have one
without the other.
What are your favourite films?
My favourite films change from time to time. Currently I am
working on a new feature film, so I am only watching Hitchcock
films because of that. When I was doing So Hard to Forget I watched
films like Closer and The Hours.
What's next for you?
My next film is about a taxi driver living in Rio who gets
involved with a murder. She is very curious and plays the detective
role. It is also based on a book.
So Hard to Forget is out on DVD June 4.
here to get your copy now at DIVAdirect.co.uk for £12.99