Locarno 2019: An Interview With ‘Technoboss’ Director João Nicolau

Retirement is coming soon for Luís Rovisco. The songs he dreams up during the day make up for all the injustices in his life. But standing before the receptionist Lucinda, he finds himself singing to a different tune.

Director João Nicolau (The Sword And The Rose and John From) arrives on Close-up Culture to give us more insight into his latest film, Technoboss, ahead of the 2019 Locarno Film Festival.

Q: You surrounded yourself with a set of conflicting, or outright impossible, aspirations to create ‘Technoboss’. What interested you about starting this project from a place of tension and conflict?

A: The fact that I surrounded myself with those aspirations doesn’t mean that I did it on purpose. I actually only noticed those contradictions on the final stages of the film production. But they were always there. I guess they were telling me where not to go.

Q: Of all the different conflicts, I was most intrigued by the desire to have the protagonist sing a lot without making a musical. What role does music and singing play in ‘Technoboss’?

A: The use of music in film is one of the aspects that fascinates me the most as a director. I’ve had enormous fun using music in my previous films. On this one I wanted the main character to sing as we all do in our everyday life. I wanted the songs to make the narrative go forward and, simultaneously, giving us a deeper knowledge of this guy. 


Q: Which of the conflicts at the heart of this film gave you the most trouble or pause for thought?

A: Shooting (in) cars. It’s a practical nightmare.

Q: Luís Rovisco sounds like a unique lead character. Can you tell us more about him and how he shapes the film?

A: Rovisco is pretty much a regular guy. He has a regular job, a regular house, a common family. He doesn’t aim at much either. And yet he is unique: from anger to tenderness, from song to pantomime he always finds a way to make an impression on the people he interacts with. He is at peace with himself, that’s perhaps the most unusual about him.  

Q: This is Miguel Lobo Antunes’ first acting role. He has previously studied as a lawyer and worked as a curator and cultural manager. Where did you find Miguel? And what interested you in using a first time actor in this lead role?

A: When I finished writing Technoboss I was pretty sure I had to work with a professional actor (the main characters in my previous films were all non-professionals). We casted a lot of them, and professional singers too. I had already two or three who could be an option but I wasn’t totally satisfied.

Then one night at a party I saw Miguel. I observed him interacting with other people, drinking and dancing. That was enough for me to invite him for the casting. He came and convinced me. It was a privilege to work with Miguel. We both enjoy hard work.


Q: Miguel is paired up with acclaimed and experienced actress Luísa Cruz in the film.  What was the dynamic like on set working with an inexperienced actor and an experienced actress? 

A: Actors and actresses are, above all, human beings. Let’s say that human qualities are very important to me. For me there’s no big difference in working with professional or non-professionals actors. I ask them the same things and I demand the same commitment from them.

Miguel and Luísa are both very intelligent, kind and generous. They were very inspired colleagues, helped each other a lot and had a lot of fun on the set (even though it was a tough shooting)   

Q: What have you learnt about yourself from making ‘Technoboss’ and creating the character of Luís?

A: I don’t make films to learn about myself. I’m not that interesting. 

Q: What does it mean to you for ‘Technoboss’ to screen at the Locarno Film Festival? 

A: Locarno Film Festival is known for the audacity in programming and for the enthusiastic and cinephile audiences. So it’s a pleasure and an honor to be part of it.

Q: What are your hopes for ‘Technoboss’ at Locarno and beyond?  

A: I would like this film to meet challenging and restless audiences.

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