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Gal Costa: ‘We say goodbye with a love you’, says filmmaker who documented the singer’s life


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Dandara Ferreira

Filmmaker and master in communication from the University of Brasília (UnB), she directed the documentary “O Nome Dela é Gal” (2017) and currently runs the fiction “Meu Nome É Gal”, scheduled to premiere in 2023.

When I was asked to write this text, I thought a lot about how to summarize Gal Costa because she is love, joy, passion, power, beauty, and feminine. Gal is singing and it’s mystery too. Gal is presence.

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We lost the greatest singer in Brazil. I lost my love.

And it is still difficult to assimilate this information because some of my happiest and saddest memories of my life were cradled by the voice of Gal, who, before becoming a friend and the main protagonist of an important part of my professional life, was already a great inspiration. .

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In my house, it was part of the soundtrack since my childhood. when my father [o sociólogo Juca Ferreira, ex-ministro da cultura nos governos Lula e Dilma] broke up with my mother [a fotógrafa Holanda Cavalcanti], he hummed a lot of her song, “Hotel das Estrelas”. “I laugh and I can cry too / Oh, and I can cry too”, reads a snippet of the song.

I grew up and their songs were still part of my life. The romances, the parties with friends, the moments of sadness. Gal was always there always bringing something important. Therefore, meeting Gal in person, for me, was also an enchantment, a great event.

Our approach started when I was about 24 years old. I met Gal through Caetano Veloso, his partner, his great friend, at a dinner in São Paulo. They were celebrating the album “Recanto”. I was delighted to be with her, even though she didn’t give me much thought. I tried in every way to get closer: I sat at the table opposite her, ordered the same vegetarian dish, but nothing helped. She was more focused on listening to Caetano (of course!).

Our friendship developed over time. And I think the documentary I directed, “O Nome Her Is Gal” (HBO), contributed to that. We created a relationship of friendship and trust there. The desire to document Gal’s story was ancient. I thought it was absurd not to have anything documented about one of the most beautiful voices in Brazilian music. She was reticent for a while, and I shelved the project. Maybe he thought it wasn’t time yet.

Only in 2015, when she completed 50 years of career and 60 years of age, in a conversation, she told me that she would welcome me to make the documentary. I almost couldn’t believe I was hearing that.

We discussed the documentary project always with a lot of dialogue and respect for its own limits. Gal has always been a public personality, a woman ahead of her time, who inspired many other women, but Maria das Graças Penna Burgos has always preserved her privacy as best she can.

In 2017, the year the documentary was released, in a conversation with me and Wilma [Petrillo, empresária de Gal] at her house, she instigated me to make a fiction film about her life. She joked that there were films by several singers, mentioned the film about Edith Piaf, which she liked a lot and made some comments about the actress.

I knew the challenge was huge to make this film. It was scary because in addition to Gal, all my biggest idols would have to be portrayed: Gil, Caetano and Bethânia. The whole time I imagined them in the movie theater watching and the adrenaline would shoot up.

When I developed the project and I needed to think about who would play her, Sophie Charlotte came to my mind and she agreed.

During the filming process, I would look at Sophie and see Gal, even though Sophie is so physically similar to Gal. I got emotional on a day of filming that Sophie stretched out in a hammock and made body gestures very close to Gal.

Gal was present at the making of the film. He was always calling to share things, ask questions, show us things we had discovered in the research, ask about costumes. Her memory was terrible (laughs), but I wanted to live that moment so important to me together with her.

These almost 10 years documenting Gal made me admire her even more. We are talking about this brave woman, who faced her own shyness, prejudices and even the Dictatorship to fund her art, her music.

A woman who broke barriers and became a reference for us, women of different generations. A combative artist, who until today remained active in the struggle for culture and for a better Brazil.

The last time we saw each other, although it was by FaceTime, I was coincidentally with Caetano at a dinner in Brasília. The three of us spoke and I echoed that call for several days. I remembered that Caetano had introduced us and I thanked him for that. We say goodbye with a love you.

On Wednesday (9), at the time I learned of Gal’s death, I was on the phone with Sophie. We hadn’t spoken on the phone in a while. The call dropped and I got the news. Symbolic.

Death is absence, but there is no absence when talking about Gal. Gal will always be present among us.

I love you, Chicken. Thank you so much.

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I have worked in the news industry for over 10 years. I have been an author at News Bulletin 247 for the past 2 years. I mostly cover politics news. I am a highly experienced and respected journalist. I have won numerous awards for my work.

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