Babenco: Tell Me When I Die (2019) - full transcript

"I have already lived my death and now all that is left is to make a film about it." So said the filmmaker Hector Babenco to Bárbara Paz when he realized he did not have much time left. She... - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
Why would you speak?
What would you say to yourself


Fucking hell. It's here.

Because everyone always says:

"Ah, you're a lion,
you die and you come back to life.

You're like a phoenix.
You die and you come back to life.

That's how it is with you.

I won't even visit you in hospital
as I know you'll get well."

And I always say the same thing:

"But one day I might not get well

and won't recover."

How do you make a movie?

How does a movie come to life?

It can be born in a death sentence
given by a doctor

saying, "You'll die in 3 months".

And from that point on,
you start to create a story.

I'm taking cymbalta.

- 60mg.
- But it's not working.

- Something's weird...
- It's a medicine way too strong.

- I'm back where I started.
- What will happen to him?

We have to talk to Daniele Riva.

I'm taking the 60mg one.

I'm also taking that one...

What did you eat for lunch?

- I'm taking the 300mg one.
- It's terrible.

I haven't been able to sleep.

I took it at midnight.

- I also take the...
- I get a little distracted.

Mr. Hector.

Mr. Hector.

I'm taking a...

Mr Hector.


What do you have to do
to become a movie director?

You have to know
how to tell a story,

and for that you have to live.

The first thing you have to do
is get away from here.

Come here,
I'll show you something.

In Germany I had a friend
who made movies.

During the war he escaped
to North America

and ended up being successful
in Hollywood.

And what's this for?

To frame,

and see only what interests you.

I'm giving it to you.

Now it's yours.

Frame me up like you did before.

Am I in the frame?

- My love...
- Wait, I'm framing you...

Like before. Then you'll see
on the lens what number it is.

Wait, Hector.

Be patient with your students.


- Am I in the frame?
- Yes, my love.

- Then see what is the number.
- The number is here.

- The lens goes from 24 to 105.
- It's at 105.

- Then it's completely tight!
- I know.

That's why the distance
between this hand...

Now I'm cutting back
to a wider angle.

- See? Cut to close up.
- That's what I did before.

I just want to explain
one thing to you.

Get my nose in focus.

- Get my whole face in focus.
- I have.

- Here my hand is out of focus.
- I know.

As you zoom in
the focus becomes finer.

And you lose background focus.

Got it.

If you zoom out to wide 24

you'll be focused on my face
and on my hand here.

- I'll zoom out.
- Zoom out, look here.

It's all in focus.

You can even see the pool.

You see?
Everything is in focus.

- Got it?
- Yes.

That's it.

You're beautiful.

You're very beautiful.

Don't waste time romanticising
every moment,

otherwise you'll have a movie lasting
4 hours and 15 minutes.

- My love...
- You have to be able to synthesize.

I know what I'm talking about.

You're not going to make
a series about me.

The Death of Hector:
episode 1, 2, 3...

Making movies is
almost like a cocoon.

It's born out of something,
a nut, something enclosed.

It is born, it sprouts,
it develops,

and then it acquires a purpose,
an enormous social identity.

But what goes on is the feeling
that first inspired it.

I think the desire to do it,

the desire to be alive

that materialised
from the concept of finishing a movie.

As if by filming
you're living an extra day.

I don't know what came first,
filming or being alive.

In this way,
fiction comes into being.

It comes from inventing

a feeling and developing it.

And my greatest pain

is in relation to the difficulty
in doing this.

It's as if imagining and thinking
leave much still to be done

and time is short,

and the feeling grows that
the great work hasn't been achieved.

Every time I ask

What, when, how and where

you always reply

maybe, maybe, maybe.

- She wants to record my pain.
- Travelling is very difficult.

She wants to record my pain.

Here in Paris,
in the Latin Quarter,

enjoying our holiday.

After success
always comes the storm.

It couldn't be different
this time.

Here I am once more

going through
a little domestic tragedy.

I had just finished
Kiss Of The Spider Woman,

and I got cancer.

I was 38 years old.

Then, while suffering from cancer,
I made Ironweed.

And I made
At Play In The Fields Of The Lord

in the Amazon,

still sick.

I remember that the ganglia
had grown so much in my groin

that Dr. Drauzio made me
get a charter flight.

We finished a night shoot at 6am.

I got on a charter plane
at 7:30 or 8 a.m.

I got to São Paulo,
they took out the ganglia.

On Saturday I rested at home,
flew back on Sunday

and on the Monday
morning I was filming.

With more than forty stitches
in my body.

Nobody knew.

And Dr Drauzio told me clearly:

"You have four
to six months to live."

Did a doctor come
during the night?

No, I was afraid of that.

They're giving me
too much cymbalta.

It's not cymbalta,
it's morphine.

They're giving me cymbalta.


And I'm afraid of... of...

Of what?

It hurts me.

But cymbalta is a painkiller.

- Really?
- Yes.

Cymbalta is a painkiller.

That's why you began taking it
more than 20 days ago.

I'm in pain.

What makes you feel like this...

is what's killing the pain because
the cymbalta wasn't working anymore,

so they put in neorotin
and took away the lyrica.

And now they've given you
a very strong dose of morphine.

That's why you're in this state.

Even in the most difficult moments
it never occurred to me

that I might cease to be,
cease to exist.

I always had supreme confidence

in my capacity to be lucky
and survive.

I saw a boy running

I saw the time

Playing around the edges

Of that boy's pathway

I put my feet in the stream

And I guess I never
Took them out again

The sun was still shining
On the road

And I never passed by

I saw the woman preparing

Another person

San Martin, Rivadavia,
Belgrano, Moreno, Colombo,

Rawson, Godoy, Castelli,
Alvarada, Villanel.

I remember absolutely everything.

Things from my neighbourhood.

The left-winger Perincha
who played for San Isidro

the Polack Stauka.

Travelling standing up in the truck
to the country,

to Saba's little football ground.
They were a second division team.

What wonderful stories!

Autumn, the ground
covered in leaves.

On the sidewalk we walked over them
and they went "crackle, crackle"...

It was so beautiful.

And we didn't know that.

It's beautiful
because we remember it.

Maybe the word was "refuge",

where I find and nourish myself

to be able
to understand things better.

Because to be a Jew
was to be nothing.

If you're Jewish you don't belong,
and you weren't born anywhere,

and you hear your parents
and friends, your parents' friends

speaking a language that nobody else
in our street speaks,

Yiddish for example.

And this makes you feel
you're a person

who doesn't belong in the community.
I think the word

it's like the cinema,

like a dark place
where I sought protection, distraction,

those were my guides.

I took much refuge in reading.

I remember I dreamt of being ill

so I could stay at home
reading in bed.

I daydreamed.

"Oh, how good it'll be
if I get ill tomorrow

so I can finish that book."

There's a great difference
between the first movie we see,

and the movie
that we take to heart.

Never again
could we feel anything

as strong as what
we felt at that moment.

- The subtitles?
- It's an old movie.

It came like this.

We can't read a thing.

- So what do you want?
- Fix them.

I told you, It's an old movie.
It came like this.

I've asked myself many times
if it wasn't a subconscious desire

to repeat the sensation
of that moment

which impelled me
to want to make movies.

Movies are made here
in São Paulo.

Movie crews are formed here.

Movie production happens here.

Movies come from here
ready for general release.

Talkies are the great culprits

in the transformation

of those who think
a wooden shack

confines them more than a prison

I decided to stay in Brazil
because I think it is a country

where reality supersedes fiction

at a much greater rate
than in Argentina.

Also because I like Brazil
much more than Argentina.

I think I have much more scope
to work here,

I think Brazilian reality
is much more attractive, richer,

more expressive, more contradictory,
more chaotic,

and it's here
I want to do my work.

I'm a person who has become
reasonably anarchist.

My idea of survival
involves adopting

an anarchist stance
to confront the world.

And always, ever since boyhood,
I've had a horror of being employed,

that is to depend
on a fixed salary and a job,

to have a boss and fixed hours.

Babenco, is it true that
before you became successful

you sold graves in the
Morumbi cemetery?

I was an ace. I made money
from whole families because

I did a kind of improvisation

trying to get them to imagine

that at the moment
when death comes

calling on their family, father,
mother, wife, son...

the last thing in the world you want
to deal with at that moment

is the worry about having to buy a grave
in the cemetery to bury your relative.

So I switched the lights on and off
to simulate death...

I did a thousand things, and I tell you
everyone bought them like popcorn.

For a year and a half
I was an extra.

I did westerns, war movies.

I played Red Indians
in several movies.

I learned how to ride a horse,

to be quick on the draw.

Until one day I got tired of it
and left.


Did you get it or not?

Do it all again.

Make your entrance.

Rita Cadilac!

- Have you ever been arrested?
- Yes, I have.

And I know what it means
to be in isolation.

I loved the idea

of being a contrarian,
but I think

the call to be a Visconti
when I grew up was stronger.

To be a movie director.

And you've got the court records
of you being arrested in Spain?

Yes. I wore prison garb.

Oh! Prison garb?

Yeah. Doing hard time.
On prison rations.

It was mid-winter,
there was a cold draught in the cell.

I lay in bed or walked around.

That's why I pace around
when I'm writing a screenplay.

I pace from one side to the other.
It's something that comes from prison.

Eternal gratitude,
divine providence, life, destiny.

So try to find
a more colloquial tone

as if you're speaking
within the objective of the movie.

As if it were a testimony,
a non-existent judgement.

When everybody would relate
what they remember about that day.

It's a mix of testimony and reflection
and that's why it's so strange.

Please, people. Please.
I'm asking you please.

Those who want to chat
can go and chat outside.

This won't do.

It's a delicate scene, we're all trying
to discover what needs to be done.

Anyone still alive take off your clothes
and come out naked!

Anyone still alive take off your clothes
and come out naked!

It's very difficult
to speak definitively.

But we can say
I'm talking about hope.

We can say that I'm talking
about social outcasts.

We can even say
that outcasts are closer to God

than any other person alive
on this planet.

We can also say

that outcasts are people
whose lives

court death all the time.

We can also say that outcasts
have no conscience

and that their purpose in life
rests solely in the moment of action.

And we can say that I love

I made Pixote, and the movie before it
was about the Death Squad.

Now I have made a movie
in which I think

I have raised the level
of the narration,

another dimension of achievement

for the moment.

Suck it my little boy.

Mummy's with you.

Let go of me Pixote.

Let go of me Pixote.
I don't want this.

Take your filthy mouth off me.

I'm not your mother, you hear?

I'm not your mother.

I don't want a son.

I hate children.

Go live your life.

We all get by as best we can.

Get out!

We were having lunch here,
sitting on the rails.

There was nothing else to sit on.

There was a crew here,
six or seven people.

Clovis Bueno, Rodolfo Sanchez...

And I looked up and saw a boy

playing at tightrope
walking along the rails

and I said,
"Let's get the camera,

because I think that
in some way that symbolises

what the movie is about."

But he asked, "What are you going
to do with it?""I have no idea."

Brazil is a country
with a population of 120 million,

of whom about 50%
are under 21 years of age,

and of those
about 28 million children exist

below the standards set out

by the United Nations Convention
on the Rights of the Child.

In the typical picture,
the parents go to work

and their kids stay at home,

usually looked after by an older sister
or some neighbour who gets paid.

Fernando, for example, who is
the main character in the movie Pixote,

lives with his mother
and nine siblings in this house.

It's undeniable
that I'm a pariah.

I wasn't born in Brazil.
But the truth is I'm alone.

Exile is a state of the spirit,

but I feel like Brazil
doesn't want me.

I feel like Brazil
doesn't accept me,

or I don't accept myself
in Brazil.

I don't know.

The Argentinians think I'm Brazilian,
the Brazilians think I'm Argentinian.

So it's hard

to accept the absence
of my own roots,

my own identity.

We're interrupting our schedule
to bring you some breaking news.

Is there a remedy
for guilt, Doctor?

One for you.

Jewish piece of shit.

I've been dead meat for a long time.
I'm just waiting for my time to come.

The best thing about prison
is getting out.

Let's go someplace where
they will never find us!



How is your hearing?

- About 70%.
- Okay.

And your limbs? Any loss of strength
in your arms or legs?

Loss of strength everywhere.

Do you think this has been progressive?
Is this loss of strength increasing?


Have you noticed
if you're forgetting things,

either past things
or more recent things?


- Would you like to come with us?
- Yes.

I'll give you a questionnaire
for your security...

I'm used to it.

And I'll ask you to put
your cellphone away, alright?

Let's go!

- Let's go!
- Let's go!

- I liked it.
- See? He asked us the questions

we wanted to hear.
He asked questions...

Of course.

But that's okay, I'm certain
it will indicate something.

And it'll be something incurable,
no medication.

But maybe it can be
contained for a time.

It can be contained
and not break out again.

There might be something new
in the pipeline.

I have to live
with this new reality.

My speech is different,
I think at a different speed,

and so I keep on living,
keep on living.

That's it.

We mustn't complain.
Keep on living.

I wanted to make the movie
as if it was my last one.

I have to speak about myself.

I don't remember where I was
or why.

They bring me a cooler
like those picnic ones,

a professionally made beautiful one,
blue plastic,

with all my documents,
all my scans, radiographies,

blood tests, with my entire
medical history

for my trip to the States

to get a final diagnosis
of what's wrong with me.

Suddenly I'm at the airport,

and I don't know who,
at what point someone,

an airline agent or some official,
comes over to tell me

they'd noticed there were
too many documents

and they'd decided
to take some out,

and I get really hysterical

and say,
"You might have taken something

that appears unimportant to you,

but is very important
in my medical notes.

It could alter the results

of my case study."

I infiltrate myself into
the entrails of the airport,

into corridors,

and I open each room,
knock and open,

to see if I can find the people
who made that decision.

I find really strange things.

I find a chemist's lab

with a lot of technicians working
with test tubes,

or into another place
that's a butcher's, but all white,

all the meats are white,
everything's white.

I look at my watch
and it's 1.05 am,

I'm maybe the last passenger
because the check-in desk is deserted,

and I get there
and there's my box,

my cooler or whatever the hell
you call that poxy fridge.

When I open it I see it's empty,

there are just a few drops
of filthy water,

stale water that's remained there
since the cooler was actually used.

It's obvious there's nothing
in the cooler,

absolutely nothing.
It's empty.

At that moment I woke up.

My love...

My love...

Let's eat?

- Or it'll get too cold.
- What?

- It's already half past two.
- And what do I have on today?

You have some filming to do.

- What of?
- Of dreams.

We gotta have lunch,
or the food will get cold.

Seriously, it's getting too cold.
You want to eat cold steak?

- No. Why would I eat cold steak?
- Is it okay for you to eat cold steak?

No, I won't eat steak. Why?
Have they already fried the meat?

- Well, we're in the hospital.
- Ah, Barbara.

- We're in Czechoslovakia...
- We're in Padova.

This movie relates
in a fictionalised form...

- I don't like it.
- No, fictionalised is ugly, right?

I really don't like it,
I won't watch a movie like this.

"I had to tell the story in this movie
before it was too late." No.

I think that's about it.

"This movie is based on facts
which really happened to me."

- I don't like it, Hector. It's bad.
- "Facts" are ugly.

No, they're not facts,
and they really happened.

"This movie is what happened
in the most recent years of my life."

Do you like inspired?

- I don't like inspired. "This movie is".
- Based on?

- I don't like it. It's not based on.
- "This movie is."

This movie is.

But then you give it
the aspect of a biography.

So fucking what!

"I decided to tell this story...

so I can forget it."

Hector Babenco.

You bitch.

You give me panettone,
you weaken me

and then you film me.

Perfect! There's no need
for Elia Kazan's Method.

No need for Stella Adler.
There's no need.

I can't do it. It's no use.
Because I'm not going to die.

- You won't die? Ever?
- Someday...

Just like the poem says:

"On a day I already have
memories of."

I don't want them to take me
and give me hospital food.

At my final meal
I want to eat well.

We should summon all our friends
when we're dying.

And say, "Listen folks,
I'm going to die. Come by the house."

And we'll cook some good food, tasty,
I don't know, roast beef,

a great big delicious salad,

a dulce de leche pudding,

without sweeteners.

We'll make some good caipirinhas,
drink some good pinga.

And there'll have to be a doctor,
on the day of my death.

Someone has to listen
to my heart, right?

And say, "It's stopped."

Or, "He's dead, but his heart
doesn't want to stop,

it wants to go on."

- It's done Barbara.
- Really?

- You're marvellous.
- Seriously?

- Seriously?
- Yes.

It's done my little monkey,
it's done.

Great, congratulations,
it was really beautiful.

- Was I a clown?
- You were a clown.

- Palhaça, clown.
- Total clown.

- Ridiculous.
- Ridiculous.

Really ridiculous?

No, not at all.

Was this your last film scene
just like you wanted?

That's what I wanted.


What a mess.

This idea of the end
is intolerable.

It can't be like this.

How long ago did you start
to feel much weaker?

Six months.

- This weakness?
- In your legs.

In my legs about six months ago.

It started going downhill
bit by bit.

It wasn't overnight.

- Hector.
- What?

Today on the beach
you weren't able to walk. Stop it...

- Really?
- Yeah!

You couldn't go into the sea
on your own.

- When?
- Today.

- Now?
- This morning.

Now I'm afraid because you seem
to be letting yourself slide.

- That I'm surrendering?
- Yeah!

I'm trying to understand
everything I'm dealing with.

It's a combination of things.

I'm not saying...

It's something that might take its time,
obviously, but it might happen.

It's silly not to think about it,

but if it doesn't happen,

I wish...

I really wish...

that many people will miss me.

And that no one knows I'm alive,
living in Hong Kong.

Married to that goddess of the cinema
Xu Jinglei.

And reading the obituaries,
smoking a good cigar.

In a beautiful apartment
overlooking the sea.

And I have to be in Hong Kong
because no one will find me there.

And also I will realise
that I'm in Hong Kong

and I have no one to call,

and no one will call me
because they think I'm dead.

Then I'm fucked.

It'll be the moment
to reinvent myself.

I have already lived my death.

All that's left is to make the movie,

All that's left is to make the movie
about my death.

Silence please.