Alberto Morais

Alberto Morais

Alberto Morais is back with his second feature film The Kids From The Port: a movie that played in the Family programmes at the BFI London Film Festival.

We caught up with the filmmaker to chat about the new movie and what inspired the story.

- The Kids From The Port is your latest film, so can you tell me a bit about it?

It is about three children: Miguel and his two friends who have been given a military jacket from Miguel's grandfather. He has had this jacket from the Civil War, and he wants his grandson to go to the cemetery and leave the jacket because a friend has died.

Miguel is not going to school; his family don't really take care of him, and he lives in a tough neighbourhood. With his friends, they begin the journey to this cemetery, and the film is about that journey.

This film tackles the social abandonment in Spain and family abandonment. The things that Margaret Thatcher did in England, and Ronald Reagan did in America during the eighties are happening in Spain.

- You have penned the screenplay as well as being in the director's chair. As you say this film looks at social abandonment and family abandonment, so what inspired the idea for the story? Why did you decide to tackle these issues?

My father comes from the Communist Party in Spain: he was a doctor in his neighbourhood and he had been working hard in this neighbourhood.

I started to make a documentary about this work, and I saw the children and how they related to themselves, and I thought 'I may have a film here'.

I started to walk around this neighbourhood and meet and understand the people that lived here. Then I started writing the script that I called The Kids From The Port.

- Omar Krim, Blanca Bautista and Mikel Sarasa are great in the film as Miguel, Lola and Guillermo so can you tell me a bit about the casting process? And what you were looking for in these roles?

The casting process was difficult. Over three months, we saw about six hundred and fifty kids; I was at the casting and saw all the children myself.

I don't like the traditional way of casting; I like to approach people, and I like to learn a lot about people. So I saw all of these kids. The first kid who came to the casting I saw playing football in the school where I was doing the casting.

I said to him 'are you coming to the casting?' And he was like 'No'. I saw his face and his movement, and I was like 'you have to come to the casting'.

So he went off to get the legal letter from his parents before turning up at the casting. He landed the role of Guillermo. I don't decide who gets the roles; they decide as you can just see it in them.

The main character is from the same neighbourhood that the film is set. He had a sad side to him because he had had a lot of problems in his family. You can see that this child is having a lot of problems.

We became very close friends during the film. I can tell you that the children were least of my problems during the shooting of the film. They helped me out a lot.

- Well, they always say that you should never work with children, so how was your experience with them?

There is a dog also in the film. I lost ten kilos during the shooting of the film - I am back to my regular weight now. I had a very difficult shooting plan, and so it was a very challenging film.

This is the most difficult movie that I have ever made. We also didn't have too much money because it is very tough to finance cinema.

- How have you been finding the response to the film?

The film got its world premiere at the Moscow International Film Festival, and then we went on to the Toronto Film Festival.

Now we are here at the BFI London Film Festival, which is a very prestigious gala. Everything has been awesome, and we are very happy with the way it has been received.

- Finally, what is next?

I am sticking with a similar theme and writing about children in the north of Spain. It is about coming through a difficult situation.

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