Titled "Until Porn Do Us Part," the film tells the story of Eulália, a conservative 65-year-old Portuguese mother, who is shocked to find that her son Sydney, having emigrated to Berlin, is now famous worldwide as a performer in hardcore gay sex films, using the name Fostter Riviera. When it comes to documentary, there are few subjects as thorny as pornography, and for his latest film, Portuguese director Jorge Pelicano has chosen something even thornier – the sometimes fraught relationship between a gay male porn actor and his mother.
Second, a huge part of the film was shot inside the mother’s house. Also, I decided not to move the camera, because she stayed static for many hours in front of the computer trying to search for her son on Facebook. First of all, I’m not interested in reality. I researched her daily routines and found out they were mostly the same every day. So I decided to prepare the set and put the camera in those places and wait for the mother. The reality is the starting point to make a documentary, to make cinema.
How willing were Eulália and Sydney to take part, and what did you do to make them comfortable?
How did Eulália and Sydney feel about the finished film?
The film's debut in Portugal will be at the end of November in Coimbra at a film festival dedicated to Portuguese cinema.
When did you realize that here was a feature-length film in it?
I realized that in this relationship between mother and child, there were conflicts and barriers that were difficult to overcome. From the beginning, I knew I did not want to do a documentary about the backstage of pornography in Portugal. At the time he was already known for being the first Portuguese pornographic gay actor and already with some prizes won in Europe. My focus was not the actors, but the parents of the actors. Eulália was a conservative and religious woman, the opposite of what her son was. I remember perfectly my first inner question: how do parents live with their children's pornography? Narratively, this conflict was my starting point. I asked him for permission from his mother, Eulália, and he said, “You will like my mother.” He was right. During the research process I met some porn actresses, but it was with Sydney that I got more acceptance.
Were there any surprises or setbacks along the way?
Did you always know the structure of the film, and did anything change in the edit?
When I first met Eulália I told her I understood that it was not easy for her to expose her private life in a documentary. I knew it would not be easy to persuade people to take part in the film. But she replied that telling her story was a way to free herself of some fears and prejudices she still had about her son. She also wanted her testimony to be important to other parents who might be in the same situation. I also knew that in addition to convincing the actors, I would have to win the trust of the parents. It is a very intimate film that exposes delicate themes in the family universe. Perhaps because he lived in Germany – a country with a different mindset regarding homosexuality and pornography – Sydney was readily available, not only to tell his story but to introduce his mother.
Eulália was shocked and had to go to the hospital. I realized at that moment that the past of Eulália and Sydney was as important as the present to tell the story. At that time, the relationship between the two was already much more peaceful. He sat her in front of the computer and searched the Internet for the name “Fostter Riviera”. Only two weeks later did she dare to speak to her son about what she had seen. On that day, Eulália discovered that her son was gay and a porn actor. In 2011, a friend of Eulália invited her to come to her house. I met the protagonists in May 2016. Eulália lived – and still lives – in Porto and Sydney worked in Berlin. At that moment I decided that the film would be a feature film told from the mother's point of view. The worst moments happened years before.
Eulália saw the film in the final assembly stage, as I promised. She looked at me and said that what she had just seen was the truth of a relationship between mother and child. I remember being very nervous next to her in the movie theater. At the end of the screening, she did not tell me whether he liked it or not.
Portuguese pornography begins to have some visibility, with actresses and actors giving interviews in television programs. But I think it is still not so well accepted by Portuguese society. I think Spain, our neighbor, is very advanced in terms of the thinking with respect to pornography. Homosexuality in Portugal – fortunately – is no longer seen as a taboo, slowly the prejudices are disappearing. But there is one piece that I found very interesting within the family universe of porno actors: mothers accept their children's choices better than fathers. Honestly, we have to separate things. For a man, having a daughter or son porn actor is something very difficult to accept.
This uncertainty, this unpredictability, this adaptation of what the present gives, are reasons why I like to make documentaries. What we idealize and imagine does not always correspond to what happens. The important thing was to be truthful and able to show what this mother had to do to accept her son as a gay porn star. We never knew how the movie would end, but that did not bother us either. During the filming process – it was made over a year – in the relationship between mother and child there were many advances and setbacks. As a documentary filmmaker, I am always prepared for reality to speak for itself.
Have Portuguese audiences had a chance to see it yet, and, if so, how have they reacted?
I would like the audience to feel that a mother's love knows no bounds. This is also a movie about the consequences of the choices of the children that in many situations, the parents cannot accept.” /> This mother’s love is universal.
As the film prepared to screen in Ji.hlava Film Festival’s international competition, Opus Bonum, Variety talked to Pelicano about his provocative and thoughtful film, the story of a very special woman. Pelicano charts some raw and emotional moments in Eulália’s life as she tries to move beyond her initial shock and horror to a place of understanding, using the tools of modern cyberculture – Google and Facebook – to better understand Sydney’s life choices.
How did you approach the shoot, both technically and artistically?
What would you like audiences – all over the world – to take away from this story? Is it universal?
I had access to this past through the thousands of Facebook messages exchanged between mother and son during the years from 2011 to 2016. As I said earlier, the past about the relationship was important to the story. Sooner or later, the movie had to emerge from the editing room. And to show this, it would have to be accurate in the choice of messages. In previous documentaries, the method was to film hours and hours. Having a structure allowed me a greater control of the story and gave me a greater precision in the choice of the moments that had to be in the film. And since the film is told from the mother's point of view, I decided to ask her to reread the ones she sent to her son. These messages show the advances and setbacks this mother made to be able to accept her son as a gay porn actor. In this documentary, and for the first time in my career, I decided to build the narrative structure before filming.
How much of a taboo is this subject in Portugal?
How did you come across the story of Eulália and her son?

[Verse 1: Solo]
Now once upon a time not long ago (Not long ago)
There was an ocker kicking rhymes up in the land of rock and roll
He’s not a rocker, just a stoner on a roll (On a roll)
Goin’ all out on the road and tryna make the honour roll
See I been all up in the dojo practicin’ my braggadocio
Learned to toot my own horn, blow my saxophone and my oboe
Soprano, alto, baritone, mastered my high and low notes
A quick jazz cigarette then I’m takin’ my solo
If you ain’t heard about it ask around
On any given Sunday bet we turn the party out
Get love on every corner walkin’ through our part of town
Yeah, you that lucky winner, Price Is Right and so you better come on down
To the inner west, come and visit the turf
You’ll see my crew be runnin’ Sydney like the City2Surf
From the pretty beach sides to the sticks in the ‘burbs
They say "that dude Smooth Nicholas, he slick with them words"

[Hook: Solo]
I was rollin’ with my brosef and he turned and said to me
"Homie, you been goin’ in since we was only seventeen"
I said "I ain’t one to blow my own, but I tend to agree
If ah, you know what I—you know what I mean, what I mean"
Now the punters say they love the way I spit it on the beat
It put the roof over my head and put the kicks up on my feet
Nothin’ changed, still a couple snakes, we cut them blades of green
If ah, you know what I—you know what I mean

[Verse 2: Solo]
The sorta shit that they let fly, I could do with my eyes closed
But I’m taking the high road, tryna scale heights, never fall off cause I climb slow
See my sign’s goat, as in G.O.A.T
Make my way from A to B while spelling out what’s plain to see
My man was shotgun in the ‘Yota, looked over and said to me
"Homie, you been goin’ in since we was only seventeen"
When we’d rock up to your house party, rollin’ twenty deep
Turnin’ off your Black Eyed Peas and throwin’ on some BDP
R.B.G, R.O.C, Eminem or D.R.E
R.S.E, BnE or Suffa, Pressure, and Debris
For the moment probably be that O.V.O or T.D.E
But homie this that O.N.E, that D.A.Y, that E.N.T
Nowadays we got our names up on the list and drinks are free
It’s like something I think I saw in a vision or a dream
I’m tryna paint the kind of picture that make you picture the scene
If ah, you know what I—you know what I mean

[Hook: Solo]
I was rollin’ with my brosef and he turned and said to me
"Homie, you been goin’ in since we was only seventeen"
I said "I ain’t one to blow my own, but I tend to agree
If ah, you know what I—you know what I mean, what I mean
Now the punters say they love the way I spit it on the beat
It put the roof over my head and put the kicks up on my feet
Nothin’ changed, still a couple snakes, we cut them blades of green
If ah, you know what I—you know what I mean

[Outro: Solo]
Don’t wanna blow my own trumpet, don’t wanna toot my own horn
Don’t wanna beat my own drum kit, don’t wanna write my own score
But they like it, they love it, they buy it, they bump it, recite it
Turn it up and then they bump it up some more
Don’t wanna blow my own trumpet, don’t wanna toot my own horn
Don’t wanna beat my own drum kit, don’t wanna write my own score
But they like it, they love it, they buy it, they bump it, recite it
Turn it up and then they bump it up some more

[Verse 1]
In Britain’s Georgian times
There were so many crimes
No time to hang each crook guilty of a felony
Cos there’s no room to jail you
They’d send you to Australia
To live in our new-fangled penal colony
Think that sounds like heaven?
In 1787, it wasn’t that kind of once in a lifetime trip
First fleet took the journey
Months at sea so churny
Over 40 died while they were on the ship

[Chorus]
Those that lived were plucky
Plucky, plucky, plucky
Crammed on board with rats and vermin, cockroaches in bed
Stench inside was sicky
Yucky, yucky, icky
Lice not very nice, can’t get them out of my head

[Verse 2]
Landed Bay of Botany
Convicts’ life was rotteny
Needed food and shelter but everything failed
Threes too strong for felling
Stagnant water smelling
A real step back in time in New South Wales
Soil too poor for budding
Huts washed up by flooding
Plans for building houses came to sticky ends
The best of all their labours
Attacked by local neighbours
And that is when your neighbours don’t become good friends

[Chorus]
Situation tricky
Tricky, tricky, tricky
Then a second fleet of ships was due aground
Some thought this was lucky
But illness had strucky
Half were dead or I’ll
Fever was spinning around

[Verse 3]
After seven years
Convict record clears
Just one catch
You got to pay your own way back
No wages meant no money
No choice, but what’s funny
Many stayed, became farmers and made a stack
Original arrivers
Proved hardy survivors
Sydney turned into a place you’d choose to go
Think that they’d be fairer
To convicts who were sent there?
No way they built prisons even more remote

[Verse 4]
Port Arthur was one of the jails
Where every escape attempt fails
Was one man who nearly got through
Billy Hunt dressed as a kangaroo

[Chorus]
Inmate’s life still sucky
Sucky, sucky, sucky
Life behind bars was not very nice
Hideous and messy
Who would ever guessy
This hellhole would become a
Holiday paradise?