Home Performing Arts Flavio Alves: Provocative Film maker and ex political asylum detainee.

Flavio Alves: Provocative Film maker and ex political asylum detainee.


FI: You wrote this yourself?

FA: It’s actually based on a short story by a Brazilian writer by the name of João Silvério Trevisan.  I read the story many years ago and loved it.  Back then I never would have dreamed that I would turn it into a film.

FI: Has it been a difficult shoot?

FA: The shoot itself was only 5 days.  It’s a short film.  But getting the crew together took some time and it was difficult to get Trevisan to agree to the project.

FI: Why was that?

FA: Because I changed the ending.  I sent a letter of intent once a week for 5 months trying to get him to just call me until finally he did.  He wasn’t happy at all about me changing his story but in the end I convinced him that I loved he story as much as he did but wanted it to be accessible to the world through cinema.  The change was necessary.

FI: This isn’t the first time you’ve dealt with the subject of old age.  Why the interest?

FA: coming from Brazil, we treat our eldery with far more respect than here in the states.  It’s something that has always shocked me.  In Brazil we embrace the elderly, here there seems to be little respect for them.  There also isn’t a lot of work for them in film.  I’d like to establish myself as director of the elderly.  The Secret Friend isn’t just a short film, it’s a statement of what elderly people deal with.

FI: Seems a far jump from political science.

FA: Not really.  I entered into political science wanting to make a difference.  From Columbia University I worked with Anthony Weiner in immigration affairs and later Hillary Clinton, connecting her to the gay and lesbian community.  I’ve always tried to make advances for certain groups, film is just another way to do it.

FI: But why did you discontinue working with Hillary?  It still seems like big change, politics to cinema.

FA: I was just sick of it.  I don’t want to say I hated it, but I wasn’t very happy.

FI: Imagine how Bill feels.  In any case, we’re lucky to have you here.

If there is anyone who can see all of the glories of youth behind a face of old age it is Flavio.  His gentle brown eyes make anything difficult he says easy to swallow so it’s no wonder that he worked in politics and its no wonder that he is now a director.  Can he change the American opinion on the eldery?  Time will tell, but one thing is true, he can rest assured that he’ll never have to seek political asylum for this exposé.

On the set. Photo by Michael Seto.