Films and series

Misty Peak: HBO series imagines what Brazil would be like if marijuana were legal

Luis Navarro (Biriba) and Henrique Santana (Salim) during the filming of Misty Peak

Image: Alile Dara/Promotional Photo

Daniel Lisboa

In collaboration with UOL

10/22/2018 4:00 am

Canada legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes this past Wednesday, October 17. Using different models, the United States and Uruguay have already done the same. This new reality seems further and further away from arriving in Brazil, but HBO has decided to imagine what it would be like if it arrived here.

With the suggestive and spirited name of Pico da Neblina (Misty Peak), this Brazilian production will tell the story of Biriba (Luis Navarro), a young drug trafficker from São Paulo who with legalization decides to abandon crime and sell his weed legally together with a very inexperienced partner. But Salim (Henrique Santana), his childhood friend, decides to continue as a trafficker in the old illegal style.

Produced in partnership with O2 Filmes, the first season of Misty Peak will feature ten episodes, and filming will continue through December. For now, no date has been set for its premiere.

Quico Meirelles, who is directing the series alongside his father Fernando Meirelles, Luis Carone and Fernando Pesavento, says that in general the series shows that legalizing marijuana could be something beneficial, but doubts that the audience will understand the message. “Today, we can’t imagine anything like this. People don’t understand or agree with things that seem so evident,” he says.

The director Quico Meirelles

Image: Alile Dara / Promotional Photo

“There are various possible models for legalizing marijuana. In the series, we imagine that in Brazil it would be something like the American model, with specialized stores and independent sellers,” Meirelles tells us.

Actor Luis Navarro believes that it will difficult for this drug to be legalized in Brazil because “many people stand to lose money.” “Twenty-five percent of world GDP comes from drug trafficking. So, I’m not hopeful. But at least we can live this experience in fiction.” Henrique Santana is even more decided on this topic: “If marijuana is a drug, God is a drug trafficker. It comes from the Earth.”

Behind the cameras

UOL was on the film set and accompanied a scene which takes place in Biriba’s home: a building at the entrance to the slum of Heliopolis, one of the largest in São Paulo with roughly 200 thousand inhabitants. The residential building with three floors and 12 apartments was filled with members of the production team – between 90 and 150 professionals.

The location is perfect for telling the story of Biriba in Misty Peak. Removed from the relative simplicity of the rest of the building, his apartment has an impressive pool, green lighting, and a beautiful view of the city, which surprises those who arrive on the roof. Those who have watched films and reports about successful drug traffickers would probably imagine a setting exactly like this.

And the actors who play Biriba and Salim know this universe well. Both were born and grew up on the periphery of the East Side of São Paulo. “I would be a Biriba if I hadn’t studied. Art saved me. I have several friends who got lost. This life [of crime] is very tempting,” Navarro says.

Luis Navarro (Biriba) and Henrique Santana (Salim)

Image: Alile Dara/Promotional Photo

Santana’s friend in real life, Navarro tells us that when he received the series’ script, he told him that it had everything to do with the two of them. They didn’t hesitate for a moment to do a screen test. “Biriba is like me. He’s a chameleon who travels back and forth between two worlds,” says Navarro. “I like to joke that I’ve been outsourced for this job, because HBO is paying me to say what I’d like to say.”

Santana tells us that Caue Laratta, one of the series’ screenwriters together with Chico Mattoso, Mariana Trench and Marcelo Starobinas, says that he is “more Salim than Salim himself.” When they started writing the series in 2013, he was a professor in a religious school and wanted to be a priest. Today he identifies so much with the characters that he says, joking, that they “seem like custom-made psychography” for them.

“I think that the series is a way to look at the lives of people in slums without elitism or partiality,” Santana tells us. “It’s about who these people are, these poor people. Many people who watch the series will think we’re playboys, that we study at Wolf Maya [a famous acting school in São Paulo],” jokes the actor.