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The Second Mother 2015

The Second Mother | Que Horas Ela Volta?

The Second Mother-Que Horas Ela Volta?

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About The Second Mother 💬

An excitingly fresh take on some classic themes and ideas, THE SECOND MOTHER centers around Val, a hard-working live-in housekeeper in modern-day São Paulo.

Val (Regina Casé) is perfectly content to take care of every one of her wealthy employers' needs, from cooking and cleaning to being a surrogate mother to their teenage son Fabinho (Michel Joelsas), who she has raised since he was a toddler. But when Val's estranged daughter Jéssica (Camila Márdila) comes to São Paulo to take a university entrance examination the unspoken but intrinsic class barriers that exist within the home are thrown into disarray. Jessica is smart, confident, and ambitious, and refuses to accept the upstairs/downstairs dynamic, testing relationships and loyalties and forcing everyone to reconsider what family really means. Stuck in the middle of them, divided between the living room and the kitchen, Val will have to find a new life model.


THE SECOND MOTHER is a film about a set of social structures which have been in place in Brazilian culture since colonial times, and which continue to affect the country's emotional architecture to this very day. I started writing this script twenty years ago, when I had my first child and realized how noble a job it is to bring up a child. At the same time, I also noticed the extent to which this task is devalued by Brazilian culture. More often than not, rather than looking after your own baby you hired a live-in nanny and outsourced most of the work that was considered tedious or draining. What we sometimes forget is that those nannies very often leave their own children with someone else in order to fit into that scheme. This social paradox struck me as one of the most significant in Brazil because it's always the children who lose out - both those of the employers and those of the nannies. There's a major problem in the bedrock of our society rooted in how we raise our children. Can there really be an upbringing without affection? Can affection be bought? And, if so, at what price?

THE SECOND MOTHER should be seen as both a social criticism, and as more. Its direct approach is neither to judge nor glamorize the characters and their actions, but merely to show the naked truth in all of its complexness. The dramatic structure is straightforward, almost mathematical. The film starts by portraying the routines and rules that govern social relations in an upper-class household in Sao Paulo. The focus, however, quickly shifts when Jessica, the nanny's daughter, arrives, shattering the domestic setting completely as she defies the rules of the house and crosses lines and spaces that she is not supposed to. At first, she is expelled from those spaces that are historically ''off limits'' to the help. But, any attempt to put her in her place fails, as this ''place'' no longer exists and is no longer relevant.

THE SECOND MOTHER is a film that's developed over the last twenty years. The original screenplay called ''The Kitchen Door,'' was more about the employer-nanny relationship with a film style that most closely resembled magical realism. Five years after the first incarnation, we decided to go for something more realistic and so I had the nanny's daughter come to Sao Paulo to share in her mother's fate: leaving her world behind in order to take up a low-paying job. Along the way, however, I felt the need to inject some sense of hope into the character without having the film slide towards some false happy ending. Around the same time, Brazil elected a president from the Worker's Party and things actually began to change, and labor law amendments were introduced over the next few years that virtually eradicated live-in labor. In 2013, just as the film was going into production, I decided to sit down and completely re-write the script in such a way that reflected these changes and debates that were happening around me. Instead of portraying the nanny's daughter as hapless and meek - a faulty cliché - I gave her a forceful personality, made her noble and headstrong enough to stand up to the separatist social rules grounded in Brazil's colonial past.

THE SECOND MOTHER was supposed to be my first feature film project. I decided to make it after becoming a mother in 1995, when I was confronted with the reality in Brazil - that raising a child is often considered a second-class job, almost completely ignored by fathers, and many times given by the mother to a low-salary nanny. This nanny will bathe, feed and play with this child every single day, as if it was her own, even when, very often, this nanny has a real child of her own that she is unable to take care of as a result of her job. At the time, all of the complicated familial and social issues that this film touched on felt too personal and I thought that I probably had to be more mature to take this film on. So I decided to make a few other films first - Durval Records in 2001 and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes in 2008.

As I said, almost 20 years later I came back to this project, feeling that it was the right time to address its complexity. My two sons were adults, the country was changing for the better, its people developing more self-esteem and getting stronger. Likewise, I had also learned a lot about writing and directing films as well as working with actors. I had my dream team of artists to work with on the project: Barbara Alvarez, director of photography, Thales Junqueira, production designer and Karen Harley, my editor.

For all these personal, social and professional issues, this is a lifetime project that reflects the recent history of the country as well as choices that I have made in my own life. I hope all the love and care that is in this film's DNA can go further and maybe, in its own small way, help people find new and better places for themselves in the world.

Anna Muylaert


Q: Can you describe your writing process?

Anna Muylaert: Whenever I commit to writing, I'm very extreme and I write like crazy. When I write for other filmmakers, I try to understand what they want. When I write my films, it's different, it's almost like pregnancy in that it sort of comes from the sky and slowly forms over time. Day by day it starts to take shape and years later, it's there.

Q: How is your work received in Brazil compared to how it's received in the U.S.?

Anna Muylaert: My two features were received well in America. I love American writing and I feel they receive my writing well. I don't know if the reception is necessarily different between cultures. I think Americans understand my work more than the Europeans. The Second Mother is more social so I'm hoping it will be well received with the European audiences.

Q: How has the social and political climate of Brazil shaped your work as a filmmaker?

Anna Muylaert: This film has a lot to do with the new Brazil, the Brazil after the Lula government. I'm not necessarily political, but when the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, assumed power, she invited a group of female filmmakers to meet and have dinner together in the palace, and she chose to screen my second film. She has given us a lot of moral support. I feel very grateful to her. We all do.

Q: Is it important to be recognized as a female filmmaker?

Anna Muylaert: I believe there are feminine films and masculine ones. It doesn't matter whether the filmmaker is female or male. But at this dinner with President Dilma, with a group of female filmmakers who have never all been together before, I realized that the fact Dilma is the first female President of Brazil is not something to be forgotten. We may not be male or female filmmakers, but don't forget, we are women.

Q: Describe your process with actors.

Anna Muylaert: Constant improvisation. I never fully rehearse the scene - we just block it out, but we don't really do it until we shoot. Acting is like a meditation. It really has to be felt to happen, including all the elements of reality that emerge. I'm constantly trying to get the maximum amount of life.

Q: Why do you make films?

Anna Muylaert: I used to say I make films because it is the most difficult thing to choose. This is a good answer, but, in fact, I have to make films because all my life I've been drawing and taking pictures and listening to music and writing, and I've found that film is the only place I could combine my abilities and qualities altogether.

Q: How would you describe your voice as a filmmaker in three words?

Anna Muylaert: That's not an easy question - I'm a woman, I'm Brazilian, I'm a mother who is trying to do cinema that I believe in. That's it.


Q: How did you prepare for this specific role? What was the process of becoming Val like, and how did you research and prepare?

Regina Casé: I didn't have to research a lot, to be honest. All I had to do was to open my heart, let the memories, the gestures and the ideas for the role come back to me. What I've done, I hope, is to open a small door that will begin to free these Northeastern working women with whom I connected in all favelas in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Ceará and Recife, in Brazil. This acquaintanceship of decades helped me to build a character who has an enormous social appeal in modern Brazilian society.

Q: Was this a difficult character to play? How was Val similar or different to other characters you have played in the past? What were some of your favorite traits about this character?

Regina Casé: Speaking of Val's mannerisms, one thing that we invented and that characterized the naive and sweet manner of the character was the use of old slang. Val wanted to be modern and ended up being funny! An example of this is the expression ''show de bola'' [which means very nice]. I can say that it was wonderful to be able to typify, with Val, hundreds of women that I've met through my life. I never chose it, it wasn't intentional, but, when I analyze my career, I see that I always connect with the experiences that women from all over Brazil - from the suburbs, to the favela, the Northeastern region, like Val, and beyond.

Q: While making this film, how were you impacted personally from the story that it portrays?

Regina Casé: The story truly touched me and continues to move me all the time. For my generation, the situation exposed in the movie was common. After I had my first daughter, I brought in a nurse in what I can now see was a very similar situation. She had left a son in Maranhão State and, at that time, she was taking care of my daughter in order to let me work outside home. Of course, we didn't wait 18 years for her son to come! As soon as I knew about her situation, I had her bring the boy to live with us. Today, her son works as a cameraman on my husband's cinematographic projects. This is only one example out of many.

Q: As a TV personality and an actress, it must be difficult at times to differentiate between your private and public personas. Do you find it difficult to separate your TV persona from the characters you portray on film?

Regina Casé: I would like to thank Anna Muylaert for the opportunity. She bet on my work knowing that I was a public person, and popular in Brazil, and that this scenario could 'undress' me of all the images that appear on TV. Anna managed to make people forget about Regina Casé as a presenter and see the character of Val only. I'm glad she's believed in this and, mainly, I'm happy to see that I can also transform! No one, in any moment of the film, would be able to mix one persona with the other.

The Second Mother Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Anna Muylaert

Writing Credits

Anna Muylaert


Regina Casé

Michel Joelsas

Camila Márdila

Lourenço Mutarelli

Karine Teles

Helena Albergaria

Anapaula Csernik

Bete Dorgam

Luis Miranda

Theo Werneck

Luci Pereira

Hugo Villavicenzio

Roberto Camargo

Alex Huszar

Audrey Lima Lopes

Thaise Reis

Nilcéia Vicente

Music by

Vitor Araújo

Fábio Trummer

Cinematography by

Barbara Alvarez

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family

Country: Brazil

The Second Mother Official Trailer

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