Many amongst us have deferred dreams of directing a feature film, but few have the opportunity to put in nearly two decades as an MTV veejay while those plans take shape. That just happens to be the case for Brazilian director Marina Person, whose fiction feature Califórnia crystallized after eight years working on the screenplay, and eighteen years on the job as an on-air personality for MTV Brazil.

For our Panoramica video series we caught up with Person at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, where she presented the US premiere of Califórnia to eager New York audiences. Between struggles to catch a crosstown cab and nerve-wracking introductions to packed screening rooms, this video gives us a slice of festival life with a Brazilian twist. Along the way Person shares her reflections on pestering David Bowie, transporting us back in time through music, and the difficulties faced by women filmmakers.

Califórnia follows Estela, an adolescent girl coming of age in the São Paulo of 1984 — a time when the Brazilian military dictatorship is loosening its grip on society, a generation of rock bands inspired by The Cure and Talking Heads is taking over local airwaves, and talk of an new epidemic is stoking a slow-burning anxiety. Estela’s beloved, music-loving uncle Carlos happens to live in California, and Estela’s big dream of visiting him in the Golden State is complicated when he suddenly returns home with an unfamiliar disease.

Sit back and hit play.


Directed by Fernando Frias de la Parra
Music: Culumpios Al Suelo – “Un Día Afuera”, Timmy & The Monsters – “Awake”