In this 2009 film about a theater production in Belo Horizonte, Brazilian filmmaker Eduardo Coutinho (1933-2014) explores the porous boundary between fact and fiction. He invites the Brazilian theater group Galpão to perform their version of Anton Chekhov’s play Three Sisters—in just three weeks’ time. The three sisters of the play—Irina, Olga and Masha—are living in a provincial town, dreaming of their return to Moscow. But there are many complications to deal with in the meantime.
Coutinho starts filming on the day the actors hear the news that they have only three weeks to complete this mammoth task. He films the group throughout the rehearsal period: onstage, behind the scenes, and in the dressing rooms. It is sometimes unclear whether they are talking with each other for real or practicing their lines. Scenes of rehearsals and improvisations alternate with interviews and monologues. Coutinho has no need to show any of the final play; just as in the story of the three sisters, the lead-up is more interesting than the denouement.