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    Gay Brazilian Looks for Love in SF-Shot Film

    By Gary Kramer–

    The indie film Bathroom Stalls & Parking Lots, out September 10 on DVD and VOD, and screening September 20 at the Roxie Theater as part of the SF Latino Film Festival, has Brazilian transplant Leo (writer/director Thales Corrêa) arriving in San Francisco looking for a guy he is interested in. His best friend Donnie (co-writer and co-producer Izzy Palazzini), and Donnie’s friend Hunter (Oscar Mansky), accompany Leo on his quest, which takes the guys to the bathroom stalls and parking lots of the title.

    If this film feels sloppy at first, stick with it. As Leo gains wisdom, the movie takes some interesting turns, including an underwear party that yields a poignant exchange about life and love on a balcony with Ethan (Lucas Pagac). Moreover, Leo’s relationship with Donnie generates a quietly powerful climax. Corrêa’s film is slight, but it’s also thoughtful and sweet. The filmmaker recently chatted with me for the San Francisco Bay Times about his gay comedy-drama.

     Gary M. Kramer: How did you decide to make this film your feature film debut and star in it as well as produce, write, and edit it?

    Thales Corrêa: I was hanging out with Izzy, who is also from Brazil, and also an immigrant, and gay, and we had a similar idea of dating. He brought up the idea that we do something like Girls, which we both watched, and tell our own stories. I was hesitant. I never saw my own life being worth writing about. But he showed me that our story is just as similar and valuable as stories portrayed on Girls or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and what those characters went through are the same for us as gay immigrants. So, let’s be vulnerable, and open up and show the conflict and internal journey we go through living this way. It was about being vulnerable and exposing myself.

    Gary M. Kramer: You shot this on location in San Francisco. Did you have specific locations in mind?

    Thales Corrêa: The shoot took about 10–11 days, but we had to come back and shoot pickups for 5 days. We liked the aspects of San Francisco and the Castro; they had a different feel than West Hollywood, in Los Angeles, where I live. Its rawer, grittier, and matched our personalities in the film. We thought about the street and the clubs, like Beaux—we always end up there.

    Gary M. Kramer: Speaking of locations, can you talk about the title and the film’s use of bathroom stalls and parking lots in the film as sites for encounters in this film?

    Thales Corrêa: I’m hesitant to talk about that; I like to leave it ambiguous. I don’t want to define it. It’s an intriguing title. I want people to have their own interpretation.

    Gary M. Kramer: The film depicts an intense friendship between Leo and Donnie. What observations do you have about gay male friendships and jealousy or (b)romance?

    Thales Corrêa: In the film, Leo sees himself as being different from Donnie, who was needy. That’s a parallel with the guy Leo’s dating. This is not specific to gay people, but in general, we humans have expectations and you realize later that the image you create of a friend or lover—you want them to fit that image—and you don’t want to let go of that belief. Is he really my friend? Or is he a really good lover? That’s what the film is about. It’s about trust.

    Gary M. Kramer: Bathroom Stalls & Parking Lots is really about a search for love. Can you talk about your agenda in making this film?

    Thales Corrêa: People meet on Grindr to hook up and get off, and gay men have that culture, and we’re more obvious about it. We want to have sex; we have sex. You can argue why—cultural reasons—but the point is that getting sex right away doesn’t negate that we also have feelings. We like sex, but we also like romance and those things are not separate. If you hook up with a person tonight you can fall in love with that person and try to have a relationship. You can meet them at a dinner or a bathroom stall, and where I meet them shouldn’t dictate what kind of relationship I might have. I don’t feel where you meet should be an issue. If you like the person, you like them. We like to have fun and have sex, but we have a lot of feelings, too.

    Gary M. Kramer: Latino culture is very macho and not always accepting of homosexuality. What are your thoughts about presenting Brazilians in America, where there are less restrictions about masculinity?

    Thales Corrêa: I think that shows the beauty of San Francisco and the Castro and how open and welcoming the city is for LGBTQ people. The characters are from a macho society and are free to express themselves in America. In Brazil, you can’t be girly or gay. Coming out of that, and being gay and in San Francisco, shows how much freedom the city gives to LGBT people to be free and express themselves. 

    © 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