Sog.: dal romanzo Infância dos mortos di José Louzeiro. Scen.: Héctor Babenco, Jorge Durán. F.: Rodolfo Sanches. M.: Luiz Elias. Scgf.: Clovis Bueno. Mus.: John Neschling. Int.: Fernando Ramos da Silva (Pixote), Jorge Julião (Lilica), Gilberto Moura (Dito), Edilson Lino (Chico), Zenildo Oliveira Santos (Fumaça), Claudio Bernardo (Garatao), Israel Feres David (Roberto Pie de Plata), Jose Nilson Martin Dos Santos (Diego), Marília Pêra (Sueli). Prod.: Embrafilme, HB Filmes. DCP. D.: 128’. Col.
My first intention was to make a documentary about abandoned children with children in a real reformatory, because they don’t do anything all day. They hang around the playgrounds, walk in the corridors; they have nothing to do. I thought that perhaps I can pick up all these children, do improvisations with them in a workshop, and let each one tell me his history for a long 16mm documentary. After ten or twelve visits to the reform school the authorities closed the door on me, stopping me from working in real reformatories. At this point, I very excitedly decided to write a script and do a fiction film – to try to make another reality like the reality they wouldn’t permit me to show. I had done two hundred hours of interviews with real abandoned children in the reformatories. I built my script with the help of situations told to me by these children. Once the script was written I began working with the child-actors without using the script. The children never read the screenplay. Each day we had a workshop with the idea of developing a new sequence in the script, but each day was as if it were a new film. We discussed what can happen in the given situation where you are sitting, why? What the reactions can be? And then we did an improvisation based on that situation. At the beginning there were 800 children every day. This went on until I decided who would be Pixote, Lilica, Dito and the others. The seven children who did the film were prepared for four months. These children didn’t know about anything: not about evil, about responsibility, about memory. They are very tough and tense. […] The film isn’t only about relationships and conditions in a reformatory. It’s about discovering how children begin relationships, and how the family is the most important nucleus. When the children escape the reformatory and four or five of them are alone in the street they unconsciously become a family. The group is created for instinctive reasons, not out of a desire to live together and work together. It’s out of need, real need. […] Another thing is that reality is twice as strong as what you see in the film. My film is a Cinderella tale in comparison with the reality.
Interview with Héctor Babenco by George Csicsery, “Film Quarterly”,
n.1, Autumn 1982
Restored in 2018 by Cineteca di Bologna and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in collaboration with HB Filmes, Cinemateca Brasileira and JLS Facilitações Sonoras. Restoration funded by the George Lucas Family Foundation. Restored in 4K from the 35mm original camera negative and a first generation 35mm dupe negative. Sound restored from original magnetic soundtrack by José Luiz Sasso, color grading supervised by Rodolfo Sánchez.