Authors of our fates — or just characters?

by February 20, 2011

Karine Teles in Riscado (2010), directed by Gustavo Pizzi

The philosopher Alain de Botton once argued in a 2009 TED presentation that the meritocratic ideals that are such a point of pride in our modern age have a dark side. In explicitly accepting the idea that people are rewarded for effort and skill, he pointed out, we implicitly accept the idea that people who are not rewarded must lack the same — in other words, in almost wholly replacing the influence of luck (or of circumstance) in shaping our lives with that of personal responsibility, we regularly inflict the severest of judgments on ourselves and others.

Riscado, the first feature film by Brazilian director Gustavo Pizzi, deals with this theme in the context of acting, one of the most potentially confidence-sapping of professions. “Riscado” means “craft”, Pizzi explains:

If someone knows their craft, [it] means that they know very well what they are doing; it is expected that this person will stand out, that this person will eventually succeed… but how many talents are wasted[…] how many people live their lives doing something that has nothing to do with their true skills? How many give up? What is necessary other than talent, work and persistence? Money? Luck?

This film came from a huge desire to talk about work and opportunities, about what one has to do in order to make one’s life, dreams, projects and ideas come true. It was a personal need to understand the reason why sometimes things don’t go right, even when able and talented people are involved. Promising careers that don’t take off, talented people who remain outcast in a universe where many mediocre people thrive, having space and visibility.

Riscado will be featured in the Cartagena Film Festival in Colombia, which runs February 24 to March 3. The film’s trailer is below: