This film tells the story of Net, a student (played by Rodrigo Santoro, in his first feature film) who has deep communication problems with his parents and is, as many adolescents of his age, disoriented and rebellious. He he meets his group of friends to go out and smoke. One day he is surprised by his father as he leave a cigarette of marijuana in the pocket of his jacket. The father reacts aggressively and in the face of his inability to understand him, he sends him to a hospital to force him to rehabilitate. In this way, Neto experiences the violence in the Brazilian mental health institutions. System that for 100 years has efficiently fulfilled the function of watching over and sanctioning the cases of small "deviations" of conduct. those that not deserve a legal sanction. Discovering this way, the violence in the methods and the abuse in administration of medications used to control the boarders. With an aesthetics close to real situations, Bicho de siete cabezas speaks on one hand, of the intolerance and the isolation of a middle class family, and on the other hand, of the mechanisms of repression in the Brazilian society.
Bicho de Sete Cabeças is a fiction film inspired on the book Canto de los malditos by writer Austregésilo Carrano Bueno. Written in the 1970s, this is an autobiographical story in which Carrano counts his personal tragedy, in which was put in one of those psychiatric hospitals when was discovered that he smoked marijuana. The work of Carrano is a personal chronicle that denounces with extreme lucidity, and in spite of everything, the suffering, the monstrosities of the Brazilian psychiatric system and the hypocrisy of the Brazilian society before the consumption of drugs.
The story easily adapts to our days, since very little has been done for a change, and even today is still extremely frequent that the families put their children in mental due to "addiction" problems. At the moment, the writer, is militant of a movement against the situation of the psychiatric hospitals. In his most recent book, Las hijas de la noche, he deals with the world of drug trafficking, homosexuality, prostitution and police corruption.
One of the strongest characteristics of this film is its documentary language. The film is always trying to create the feeling that the spectator is watching a daily, banal event, feasible of happening. Simultaneously, the camera moves as if spying the events, showing them with great spontaneity.
That sensation of reality was attained by the screenplay. Neto, the maain character is a common adolescent, a youth with an intense inner world and with difficulties to communicate.
The training of actors commanded by Laís Bodansky and Sergio Penna tried to develop a intimate tone for the whole cast. For this reason, the clearest feature of Neto is his shyness. In the same way, the work with the patients of the psychiatric hospital was based on a minimalist performance , since all the characters that appear in the psychiatric hospital are professional actors.
The documentary aesthetics demanded a much bigger effort of the photography teams headed by Hugo Kovensky, whose work was rewarded at the Brasilia Film Festival. This aesthetics intended, instead of creating a glamorous beauty, to combine the naturalism with a dramatic quañity. The cinematography intended to to pass unnoticed, but at the same time it used resources that reinforced the dramatic action indicated in the screenplay. The hand-held camera of the cameramen Mauro Martins develops a true choreography to interact with the rest of the team. This way, for example, the sound director, Romeu Fifth, created a device to follow the michrophones which moved in function of the actor and the camera. The art direction was another element responsible for the efficiency of the documentary aesthetics. Marcos Pedroso summarizes his work saying that: " Bicho de sete cabeças...is a film without decorations."
This Lais Bodansky's film was made through a co-production between three Brazilian production companies (Buriti Filmes, Dezenove Sonido e Imágenes and Gullane Filmes) and the participation of the distributor Río Filme and, Fábrica de Cinema, an important Italian center of film, produced by the firm Benetton. This film also had the financial support of RAI (Italian Radio and Television) and of the Foundation Montecinemaveritá of Switzerland.