SXSW Hosted The US Premiere of Toll by Carolina Markowicz

The SXSW Film & Television Festival offered Toll (Original title: Pedágio) in the Festival Favorites Section. SXSW hosted the US Premiere after the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) World and the San Sebastion European premiere. The drama is from filmmaker Carolina Markowicz (Charcoal, The Orphan). Markowicz writes and directs a story based on the prejudice of homophobia in Brazil.

Maeve Jinkings (Charcoal, “Neon Bull”) stars as Suellen, the single mother of a son, Tiquinho (Kauan Alvarenga, The Orphan, Crime Time), who embraces his gay lifestyle. She has her prejudices and fears for his future life in the society that exists in their country. She is referred to an expensive gay conversion workshop led by a renowned foreign “priest” (portrayed by Isac Graca). Her job as a toll booth attendant is essential to their well-being. Her involvement with a lover who is not economically helpful and is into some questionable activities convinces her to try some illegal acts with him/others for extra cash to pay her debt.

This film keeps the viewer spellbound with the drama, at home with the lover and prejudice against her son, whom she loves and wants to protect. Tiquinho is adamant that he will be himself, loves music, and wants to be an entertainer. He wants to be true to himself, and society is belittling. He does find somewhere to practice his craft, but it has challenges. It is a very moving story that I will not spoil by stating how her choices while on the job have horrible consequences. The film continues on the film festival circuit.

About the Filmmaker: Carolina Markowicz has written and directed six short films, which were selected for more than 300 festivals and the recipients of many awards. The Orphan, her most recognized one, premiered in Cannes Director’s Fortnight in 2018 and won the Queer Palm. Her debut feature, Charcoal, premiered in competition at TIFF and made its European Premiere at San Sebastian International Film Festival in 2022. Her second feature (Toll) made its World Premiere at TIFF 2023, where Markowicz was honored with the TIFF Emerging Talent Award presented by MGM Studios. Markowicz has been a member of AMPAS (The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) since 2021.

About The Film and its Origins: Filmmaker Carolina Markowicz focused on work that is in tune with the current political climate, often permeating her work. The recent events in Brazil have been unimaginable to the filmmaker in many ways. Markowicz wanted to portray this bizarre obsession with other people’s sexuality in the film. Markowicz grew up in the countryside, where it was considered there could be nothing worse than being gay. There is a real danger to those who are gay in Brazil now as anti-LGBTQ sentiment grows worldwide. TOLL is a drama permeated with dark, irreverent humor. Along with the central characters, Suellen and Tiquinho, the specific tone is a key protagonist of the story. It is responsible for putting the absurd in its proper place: the current normal.

Filmmaking Team: Director/Writer: Carolina Markowicz; DOP: Luis Armando Arteaga; Art Director: Vicente Saldanha; Editors: Lautaro Colace, Ricardo Saraiva; Costume Design: Marcia Nascimento; Sound: André Bellentani, Filipe Derado; Producers: Karen Castanho, Luís Urbano (O Som e a Fúria); Bianca Villar, Fernando Fraiha, and Sandro Aguliar; Executive Producers: Chica Mendonca and Joao Macedo; and Co-Producers: Carolina Markowicz, Mario Peixoto, and Thalita Zaher; Editors: Lautaro Colace and Ricardo Saraiva.

Running Time: 101 mins

Countries of Origin: Brazil, Portugal (In Portuguese with subtitles)

Source: SXSW, Filmmaker, IMDb

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