Yuri Alves is a writer/director with a distinctive style and sensibility to cinema. Alves was born in Rio de Janeiro to Portuguese parents and raised in Newark, New Jersey. His 2011 short film, “Broken Clouds”, earned a loyal following and earned numerous awards worldwide. In 2012, Alves directed two critically acclaimed episodes of “Tempo Final”, a primetime TV series in Europe. His buzzed about short film, “Exit Road”, was an official selection at the prestigious “Raindance Film Festival.
Yuri Alves has recently completed two short films “On the Cusp” and “Grind” which are currently screening in festivals worldwide and have collectively garnered eight best short film awards in multiple continents. Yuri is currently in post production on a feature length documentary and has completed his first narrative feature film script which he hopes to go into production on this year.
Yuri’s latest film “GRIND” will screen at the Montclair Film Festival April 28th and will have it’s European Premiere in Paris at the ECU – European Independent Film Festival May 4th at 7:15pm.
Hollywood Insider Interview with Writer and Director Yuri Alves
Hollywood World: What was the most significant decision in shooting your current film?
Yuri Alves: I’m just very grateful to have opportunity to share Robert’s story. This film was an emotional journey unlike anything I’ve done. It feels good to tell an inspirational true story like this.
Hollywood World: What part of the script/story best stood out for you and why?
Yuri Alves: I was spiritually broken from a very hurtful betrayal and I found in Robert’s story something so moving. A story about someone who had gone all the way to the bottom and been able to rise up. This film served as a reminder that human beings can overcome pain against all odds if we work hard enough. But this is only one of the aspects that pulled me to make this film.
I’ve always been fascinated with sub-cultures and finding a common thread with-in them that everyone can relate or better understand. I wanted to bring an audience inside his mind. From a Liberian refugee, to one of the biggest gangsters in the east coast, to convicted felon and ultimately to his retribution. I also felt his infectious charisma and larger than life personality juxtaposed with this heighten cinematic style would be a compelling marriage.
Hollywood World: Without giving it away, tell us a little bit more about the characters and the lead actors.
Yuri Alves: I met real life Robert Wilmote and got to know his story and I was moved and inspired and it stayed in the back of my mind. Life took me in a different direction, and I ended up working on other projects but maintained a relationship with him over the course of two years.
Finally, I had an opportunity and time to make a make a short film. I immediately reached out to him and told him my concept of having him reenact his past but with this cinematic aesthetic, with the help of my cinematographer Mike Gomes I was able to achieve. Making this film created an unbreakable bond between Robert and I and to see how further he is gone since the film is so rewarding. I don’t want to give it away but you have to experience it on the big screen.
Hollywood World: How do you bring this story to life while staying true to your vision as director?
Yuri Alves: The film became this unusual cathartic experiences for Robert. We even brought him into the same exact prison cell that he spent years locked up in. To see Robert re-live these moments and capture something truthful. In a sense, I brought Robert back into the hell he had escaped one last time. I would say re-creating Robert’s past and having him embody his old self. These are real demons that we brought back to life and it took immense courage for him to do that. I think for this reason the film resonates even more to an audience.
Hollywood World: What excites you about this project?
Yuri Alves: I think the most exciting thing about this project was that I was dealing with a real life character and telling a true story while using Robert as both my subject and actor.
Hollywood World: What other works are you most proud of?
Yuri Alves: I’m proud of everything I’ve made but most recently I’m proud of this little one take poetry film titled “Blue Floozy” starring a fantastic Newark-based poet Mia X.
Hollywood World: What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
Yuri Alves: The films of Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, and Bernardo Bertolucci.
Hollywood World: What do you do to enhance the collaborative process when working with actors, screenwriters, producers and others creative members?
Yuri Alves: I encourage us to try and build of off my original idea for a scene. Things can get a bit intense on set but I don’t like to pigeon whole anyone. Working with actors is probably my favorite part while I’m shooting.
Hollywood World: What experiences have you learned from in life? How did that change you and your creative process and the way you go about making films?
Yuri Alves: I truly believe that my life and filmmaking are inseparable. They inform each other at all times. I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t working on a project. The camera in a sense shields me from real pain that life can sometimes bring.
Hollywood World: How do you see your role as a filmmaker?
Yuri Alves: To be a great conductor of emotions that always are tied to a human truth even in the most bizarre of places. I think that my duty is to bring you inside an intimate place that maybe you are to scared to explore in your own life. This is where cinema can be a great vehicle for wisdom and acceptance.
Hollywood World: Which film festivals that you have been part of would you recommend to other filmmakers looking to screen his/her films?
Yuri Alves: Raindance Film Festival in London and the ECU, European Independent Film Festival in Paris.
Hollywood World: Do filmmakers have any responsibility to culture? What message do you want to convey with your films?
Yuri Alves: I’m not sure if responsibility is the accurate word. But we have to be aware of the impact films can have on our culture. I’ll be able to answer the message my films convey maybe when I get closer to the end of my life.
Hollywood World: What other hobbies do you have?
Yuri Alves: Tennis, reading, listening to lots of different music.
Hollywood World: What do you want to be remembered for in life? What valuable lessons have you learned that helped you become the person you are today?
Yuri Alves: Hard to answer this question, I guess if I was to be remembered as a worthy filmmaker to the artform of cinema that’d be a nice thing. Perseverance and patience might be a valuable lesson I’m reminded of daily. I think my family and the struggles we encountered have shaped the man I am today. Ultimately there is no greater story than that of one’s family. Maybe that is what filmmaking is to me. To immortalize this emotions in some way.
Hollywood World: What are your top five principles of success?
Yuri Alves: Be bold, stubborn, persistent, honest, and fearless.