MENARCA (short film
Available at MUBI worldwide and Canal+ (France)
Lillah Halla is a Brazilian director and screenwriter. Graduated in Directing and Scriptwriting at the Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión de Cuba (2010- 2014), followed by a research program in experimental cinema, at the Dpt. of Fine Arts of the Concordia, Montreal (2014). Lillah was an Academy Filmmaker in Locarno 2014, a TIFF Lab Fellow/ Share her Journey Fellow 2020, a Berlinale Talent in 2021 and a artist resident at the Akademie der Künste, Berlin and a Talent Paradiso, Brazil 2022.
Levante (Brazil/France/Uruguay 2023), her debut feature, has recently premiered at Semaine de la Critique Cannes 2023, where it received the FIPRESCI Award.
Menarca (Brazil, 2020), her short film, premiered at Semaine de La Critique Cannes 2020, where it received a license to Canal+. Awarded Promotional Award ( Kurzfilmtage Winterthur), Audience Award (Rencontres de Toulouse), Best Director (Curta Cinema Rio) and Best Short Film- Golden Owl, where it was Oscar qualified. The film was part of MUBI worldwide in 2022, featuring as film of the day.
Flehmen, her second feature, is a German production and is currently under development. The project was part of Sam Spiegel Jerusalem Film Lab (JSFL) and Full Circle Lab in 2022.
Lillah has been collaborated with other works in theater and film: she was script consultant for Rule 34 (Golden Leopard at Locarno 2022), script consultant and line producer in Island of the Hungry Ghosts (Best Documentary Tribeca 2019, Nominated for the Spirits Award 2020), co-writer in Ensaio (Forum Berlinale 2019, commissioned by the São Paulo Biennial 2018), co-dramaturg for play Stabat Mater (Best National Dramaturgy Award - Shell Brazil 2020). Lillah is also the co-founder of the São Paulo-based film collective Vermelha, a political project for women / queer filmmakers in Brazil since 2014.
Menarca is a biting film on every level, a reinterpretation of the myth of the vagina dentata ("the toothed vagina") and a welcomed feminist call to arms. The poison of toxic masculinity threatens Nanã and Mel, who are saved by a fish and a woman: Lillah Halla’s perfect high-wire act between the magic realism of a fairytale and a realistic, stifling atmosphere (ageless, though it echoes present-day Brazil) infers the very essence and turns up the heat before the punk explosion finale.
(Léo Soesanto, critic and short film coordinator Semaine de la Critique Cannes)
For the mastery use of feminine imagery charged with a very poetical but in the same time meaningful atmosphere.
(Award Statement from the Jury- Best Short Film Award- GOLDEN OWL at TIFF -Tirana).
"This is a biting film indeed, chewing toxic masculinity in Brazil to spit it out in a loud punk scream. The film finds a perfect balance between magical realism and a realistic setting to deliver a very timely warning. The jury gives the Promotional Award to «Menarca» by Lillah Halla to ensure that the director’s voice will be heard.”
(Award statement from the Jury- Kurzfilmtage Winterthur )
FLEHMEN (feature film), in development
Produced by Chromosom Film- Julia Niethammer .
*Full Circle Lab- Nouvelle Acquitaine, Sam Spiegel JSFL, Akademie der Künste
LEVANTE (Brazil/France/Uruguay 2023), feature film
Produced by Arissas (Brazil), Manjericão Filmes (Brazil), In Vivo Films (France) and Cimarrón (Uruguay).
Premiere in Semaine de la Critique Cannes 2023, FIPRESCI AWARD.
Sales: M-Appeal Germany. Distribution in France: Rezo Films.
WENN ICH NICHT TANZEN KANN, IST DAS NICHT MEINE REVOLUTION (Germany/Brazil, 2023), short film in post production.
Produced by Chromosom Film- Julia Niethammer with the support of Nordmedia and Kulturstiftung Hannover und Region.
Menarca (22'/Brazil/ 2020)
Produced by Ano Zero (Brazil)
* World Premiere in Semaine de la Critique Cannes 2020 at the Cinemathéque Française, Prague Cinematheque, Morelia Film Festival.
*Festivals: Nouveau Cinema Montreal l Official Selection, Kurzfilmtage Winterthur l Official Selection, *Promotional Award, Festival Biarritz Amerique Latine l Official Selection, Curta Cinema l Official Selection - * Best Director Award, Bogoshorts l Official Selection, Festival del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano de la Habana l Official Selection, Festival de Tiradentes l Official Selection, Panorama Coisa de Cinema l Official Selection, Tampere International Film Festival l Official Selection International Competition , Glasgow Short Film Festival l Selection Scared Shortless, Cinelatino de Toulose * Best Short Film -Audience Award; Seattle International Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival, Brussels Film Festival, São Paulo Short Film Festival . Winner of the Grand Prize Best Short film (GOLDEN OWL) in Tirana Film Festival, now Academy Award (Oscar Qualified - ongoing). Upcoming ones to be announced soon! Menarca is nominated to the Grand Brazilian Film Award (ongoing), nominated to the Best Script Award ( Abra - ongoing). Licensed by Canal+ and MUBI.
If I can´t dance, this is not my Revolution (16'/Cuba/2014)
Produced by EICTV/Cuba.
* Awarded Best Film (FEPEC Prize, Janela do Cinema de Recife), Best Experimental Film (Festival des Films du Monde - Montreal) and Best Director (Semana dos Realizadores - Rio de Janeiro)
* Official Selection Biarritz Amerique Latine International Competition, Films du Monde Montreal, Janela Internacional de Cinema do Recife, Semana dos Realizadores, RJ, Brazil, Drama Film Festival Greece, Uruguay International Film Festival
*Locarno Academy Screening 2014
Rule 34 (90'/Brazil/2022)
Script consultant. Directed by Júlia Murat.
*Golden Leopard 2022 in Locarno.
O Ensaio (51'/Brazil/2019)
Co-writer. Directed by Tamar Guimarães.Produced by São Paulo Biennial of Arts, Danish Arts Council
* Commissioned by the São Paulo Biennial of Arts 2018
* Premiere at the Berlinale Forum Expanded 2019.
Island of Hungry Ghosts (98'/Australia/Germany/2018)
Script consultant and Line Producer. Directed by Gabrielle Brady. Produced by Chromossom Film (Germany), Samm Hailay (UK), Sarah Perks (Australia) and The Guardian (UK)
* Nominated for Independent Spirits Award 2020
* Awarded Best Documentary at Tribeca Film Festival; Human Rights Award at IDFA; Buyens-Chagoll Award at Vision du Reel; Special Jury Mention at Edinburgh Film Festival; Grand Jury Prize for Best Film at Mumbai International Film Festival
Fremdverstümmelung (30´Germany 2007)
Camera and editor of the short film. Directed by Christoph Schlingensief, in the frame of the Freax Opera in Bonn.
Theater collaborations (selection)
Cam Girl 1001 nights- trial version Under development (Brazil)
Co-dramaturg. Directed by Janaína Leite.
Stabat Mater (CCSP, São Paulo, Brazil 2019)
Co-dramaturg and director to the cinematic content. Directed by Janaína Leite.
* Awarded Best National Dramaturgy ( Prêmio Shell de Melhor Dramaturgia 2020)
Cinema Falado (Sesc Pompéia, São Paulo, 2018)
Co-director and scriptwriter as Coletivo Vermelha.
Der Fliegender Holländer (Teatro Amazonas, Manaus 2007)
Video-editor. Directed by Christoph Schlingensief.
Freax (Bethovenfest Bonn 2007)
Video-editor. Directed by Christoph Schlingensief. From this Intervention the film Fremdverstümmelung was born.
Trem Fantasma, Prototyp einer Operngeisterbahn (Sesc Belenzinho, 2007)
Video-director. Directed by Christoph Schlingensief.
Anjo Negro (Volksbühne Berlin, Sesc Vila Mariana, Theaterformen 2007)
Video-director. Directed by Frank Castorf.
Os Sertões (Teatro Oficina, 2004)
Video-director. Directed by José Celso Martinez Correa.
2022 Sam Spiegel Lab JSFL
2021 Berlinale Talents
2020 Cast und Cut Stipendium Nordmedia und Kulturstiftung Hannover und Region
2020 Talents Buenos Aires
2019 Berlinale Coproduction Market
2018 Fundación Carolina, Madrid
2018 Sesc Novas Histórias
2018 Cinemundi BH
2018 Bafici Bal Buenos Aires
2017 Tribeca Script-doctoring Award
2016 Brlab - Latin american Script Lab. Awarded
2015 Locarno Film Academy (with Agnes Varda, Pedro Costa, Lav Diaz, among others)
2014 Talents Guadalajara
2013 Ibaff Film Festival Filmmakers Lab, workshop with Abbas Kiarostami.
2012 Process Cinema Lab, Phillip Hoffman, Film Farm Ontario
2009 Actors Directing- Meissner Method, with Larry Silverberg. São Paulo.
2007 Artistic Residency at the Watermill Theater Institute from Theater director Robert Wilson. USA.
At its core, Menarca reinterprets and revisits masculine myths and fantasies: “the toothed vagina” as a fear of castration, of course; the Brazilian legend of the pink dolphin, in which the animal takes on human form to seduce; the word “piranha” itself. “In the case of piranhas, we could say that in Brazil they’re the cultural representation of the monstrous feminine.” explains the director, Lillah Halla. “The word piranha is a feminine noun, and not only that, in Brazilian Portuguese, it’s a derogatory way to call a sexually active woman, something like ‘slut’ or ‘whore’. ‘Piranha woman’. We're talking about teeth and sexuality again.”
Through a strange piranha-woman, Menarca conveys Lillah Halla’s taste for chimeras, these hybrid beings, and the way they challenge stereotypes: “hybrid beings are symbolic creatures born of cultural anguish. When they appear, they throw a wrench in the system as they can’t fit into any classification, threatening the status quo and its binarism. They are transgressors who see the possibility of an unthinkable future”.
In the film, transgression is bound to be an ordeal, for the whole village as well as the two protagonists. With its political undertones, Menarca’ is an initiation ritual, but also a cry for freedom from two children in a hostile environment. I believe that when the governing mechanisms are oppressive, transgression is an attempt at survival. And for me, it’s essential that this premise materializes in the film, especially in light of what we are currently living in Brazil. Of course, the resolution Nanã finds to deal with conflict is magical and couldn’t be applied didactically... But as a storyteller, I believe in the strength of symbols, in the power that images and stories exert.”
(Interview by Léo Seosanto, critic and short film coordinator of Semaine de la Critique Cannes)