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    Cousins Is a Sweet Gay Brazilian Romance

    By Gary Kramer–

    In Cousins, out on DVD and VOD December 3, lonely Lucas (Paulo Sousa) first meets his cousin Mario (co-writer/director Thiago Cazado) when the latter comes to stay with him and Lucas’ religious aunt, Lourdes (Juliana Zancanaro). However, once Lourdes leaves for a trip, and the young men start to bond, Lucas falls in love with Mario and they act on their attraction.

    Their relationship, however, is threatened by Julia (Duda Esteves), a music student who wants Lucas for herself. Cazado infuses his romance with broad humor and tender sex scenes. He recently spoke via Skype with me for the San Francisco Bay Times about Cousins.

    Gary M. Kramer: Like Cousins, your last feature, About Us also depicted two young men in love. Why do you make romantic stories about young men in love?

    Thiago Cazado: I really enjoy writing love stories, and I like to inspire young audiences who identify with these stories. But Cousins will be my last “youth” film because I think I can no longer fool the audience about my real age!

    Gary M. Kramer: There are strong religious overtones in the film. Can you talk about that aspect of Brazilian culture and how it is/is not accepting of homosexuality?

    Thiago Cazado: Brazil is a very diverse country in every respect. It is a very liberal country on one hand, and very biased on the other. It is a country where homosexuals are mostly killed in hate crimes. The reality I depict in Cousins is very common in Brazil. When I was 15 and came out as gay to a friend, he thanked me because he also confessed to being gay. He said he asked God every day not to go to hell.

    Gary M. Kramer: The film is also about combating homophobia. Can you talk about gay backlash in Brazil? There seems to be fear for gays with the new president.

    Thiago Cazado: When Bolsonaro was elected, the queer community panicked. He has scary opinions about the LGBT community. It is sad, but thankfully, we have a solid democracy in Brazil, and we have many important people taking care of this democracy: artists, politicians, scientists, thinkers. It is important for people to express themselves and defend their freedoms. The world moves forward, even though sometimes, things move backwards. I am confident that in the end, love will always win. That is why I make movies like Cousins, to encourage, and give hope and joy.

    Gary M. Kramer: The humor in Cousins is very broad. Can you talk about how you created the comedy?

    Thiago Cazado: Many of my fans ask for happy endings. I make my films totally for the public—especially those who identify with my work. If they like my work and it makes them smile, I feel fulfilled. The world is very heavy. I am also in a moment where I can’t stand watching movies that make me sad. Cousins was also a necessity for me to be able to watch a light, fun, happy ending movie. Being able to do this by mocking the prejudices is even tastier!

    Gary M. Kramer: What can you say about creating the sexual tension/attraction between Lucas and Mario?

    Thiago Cazado: Relationships between cousins is a common fetish. I wanted to play with viewer’s imagination. The sex scenes with Paulo were done in one take, and without much rehearsal. I like spontaneity. I tell the actors, “Live. Be present. Try not to act. You can’t fool the camera.”

    Gary M. Kramer: You frequently appear fully naked in Cousins. Given that you write and direct the film, you must decide how to show off your body.

    Thiago Cazado: Yes, I am always naked in the movies. I think I’m really an exhibitionist. I think nudity is a natural, beautiful thing. It brings viewers into the story and the intimacy of the characters.

    Gary M. Kramer: I like that you co-write, co-direct and star in your films. Will you continue to make romantic films?

    Thiago Cazado: There are movies that I wrote that I want to make but I have to wait until I am older. But it will be a natural progression. I am a romantic, and watching a romantic movie makes me feel love. I think it’s important to have references about love and how beautiful it is to love someone. This feeds our soul. It is important for artists to create these things. As an artist, I want to be able to make romantic films for people. We need to remind the world about having a boyfriend and being in love. I was at a film festival in North Carolina where a gentleman who saw Cousins was moved and hugged me so tight. I was delighted with the loving way they received the film and me.

    © 2019 Gary M. Kramer

    Gary M. Kramer is the author of “Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews,” and the co-editor of “Directory of World Cinema: Argentina.” Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer

    Published on November 28, 2019