Diligently working to achieve their goals, no matter what obstacles they have to overcome along the way, is a powerful driving force for not only actor Luciano Pedro Jr.’s Ninho protagonist of Ninho in, but also the crew of, the new sci-fi thriller, ‘King Car.’ Brazilian filmmakers Renata Pinheiro and Sergio Oliveira cleverly gave the main character the ability to surreally speak with cars, which sparks a revolution that could save his community, as a way to commentate on their country’s current embroiled and divisive political climate.

The duo worked together, along with Leo Pyrata, to write the script for the drama. Pinheiro then signed on to direct, and Oliveira became attached to produce, ‘King Car.’

Dark Star Pictures is releasing the movie in theaters and on VOD and Digital this weekend. ‘King Car’s official release comes after it had its World Premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, North American Premiered at Fantasia Film Festival and U.S. Premiered at Fantastic Fest. Pinheiro and Oliveira also won the Best Screenplay Award for the thriller at the Raindance Film Festival in London.

‘King Car’ follows Ninho, a seemingly normal teen whose personal dreams and goals clash with his stern father’s own unwritten rule that he will join the family taxi business. A career with cars appears to be Ninho’s divine purpose, since he can talk to vehicles, and even becomes friends with the car that saved him from an accident as a child.

But Ninho’s heart is drawn to Brazil’s ecological preservation, however, as he wants to work to save the land and help the community living there. Since losing his mother at a young age, Ninho has been considering what his legacy will be, and driving a taxi and fixing cars just isn’t enough to satiate his ambition.

But then Ninho’s eccentric Uncle Zé Macaco (Matheus Nachtergaele) figures out how to upgrade old cars, which circumvents the law that bans cars over 15-years-old from being driven on the roads. As a result, the teen’s two worlds meet: sustainability and his community’s survival through their older cars.

Pinheiro and Oliveira generously took the time yesterday to talk about writing, directing and producing ‘King Car’ during an exclusive interview over Zoom. Among other things, the filmmakers discussed that they felt it was important to highlight Brazil’s current political turmoil in the script through the allegory of a teenage boy like Ninho being able to use his ability to spark change in his community. The duo also mentioned that while they also enjoyed their experiences of helming and producing the drama once its production began, they also had to overcome budgetary challenges and social stigmas in order to get the feature made.

The conversation began with Pinheiro explaining why she, Oliveira and Pyrata were inspired to pen the screenplay for the drama, and what the process was like of working together to create the story. “Our initial inspiration for the script came from the observation of our city – there are a lot of cars, and they have more rights than us humans. But the screenplay has changed over the years,” she revealed.

“During the year before we shot the movie, we thought it was really important to put in our political history. So this movie that everyone can now see is a fantastic story about a car that can speak, but it’s also a story about a place that has political speakers who speak in false words,” Pinheiro also noted.

Oliveira then chimed in on the experience of collaborating on ‘King Car’s script. “We also use sci-fi elements, and intertwined them with the political moment we’re experiencing now in Brazil. It’s quite a political film, in a way,” he admitted. “It shows the birth of a right-wing Brazil in a fascist-style government.

“We started writing the script back in 2014 or 2015. But the political things that have been happening in Brazil since then pushed us to show more of that situation,” the scribe added. “So it’s a film that has a political message, which is set against the life of a juvenile guy who talks to cars. It’s this fantastic thing that happens to him, but the story also has this (political) connection to our society.”

Once production on the movie began, Pinheiro embraced the experience of going on to serve as its director. “It was really nice. We were working with friends, and I had a big crew, since we were working with all of these cars and actors,” she shared.

“It was funny – I had all my plans that we needed in order to shoot the sequences with the car, but sometimes we forgot to shoot the image of the car. So I was always telling my crew, ‘Don’t forget that the car is also an actor,'” the helmer divulged. “When we had to shoot the car’s dialogue sequences, we not only had to shoot the dialogue, but also the image of the car.

“But the overall experience of directing the movie was really nice. It was also hard work, but I enjoyed making the movie,” Pinheiro noted. “Writing the screenplay was actually harder than shooting the movie.”

“Raising the funds to make the film here in Brazil was also quite difficult,” Oliveira then revealed. “Every time we showed the script to someone, they didn’t believe that we could make the film. Also, since Renata is a woman, and she was entering a very male world with all of the cars, the people who were able to give us the funds didn’t believe that she could make the film.”

While raising the money to finance ‘King Car’ was challenging, the producer felt that the since “Renata is a very experienced production designer, we had a stepping stone to make the film, which is quite visual. So we were certain that she could make it, and bring what we wrote to the screen.

“But the actual experience of producing was quite hard because we shot in a middle city in our state. There were about 45 or 50 people on the crew, who we had to bring to the location where we shot the film,” Oliveira shared.

“We shot the movie in about four-and-a-half weeks, which is a short amount of tie for this type of film. When you watch the film, it looks like it took more than four-and-a-half weeks to shoot,” the producer continued.

“Money was always a problem, as we didn’t have a lot of it to do many things, so we had to improvise…But we worked with people we worked with before on our past feature films, so that we were familiar with them, and they were able to help us a lot,” Oliveira added. “But the lack of money made it quite hard to do the things we wanted to do,” he concluded.

A scene from director Renata Pinheiro’s sci-fi thriller, ‘King Car.’
Photo ofRenata Pinheiro and Sergio Oliveira
Renata Pinheiro and Sergio Oliveira
Job Title
Co-writer-director and co-writer-producer of the sci-fi thriller, 'King Car'

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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