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Brazil’s Priscila Zortea tells the true stories of legal immigrants in new film

Priscila Zortea is an actress, an artist, and most importantly, a storyteller. This Brazilian native brings stories to life, stories that she wants to be told, whether real or imagined. She gives her characters a voice, body, and as she says, a soul.

As a celebrated actress in both Brazil and abroad, Zortea knows how to truly embody her character and captivate an audience. She has worked on countless acclaimed productions, from A Journey to a Journey, Like Lightning from Heaven, This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen, and many more. However, she says the highlight of her career is her most recent film, The Countries We Love, her most personal project to-date.

“I wrote and acted in this film inspired by stories that happened to me and my best friend. It amazes me that I could turn our experiences into art and now I can share that with a large audience. The Countries We Love was my biggest challenge but also my biggest reward,” she said.

Three Brazilian women come to the United States to pursue their dreams. They're determined and extremely resilient, but life puts obstacles in their way that makes them question their decisions.

Zortea wanted to tell a story about highly educated and legal immigrants in the United States. She wanted to show a different side to immigration than the one that is now so often in the media, that immigrants are always illegal or doing something bad. There are millions of immigrants out there who have done things the right way and have worked hard to be where they are, and Zortea knows that their stories matter as well.

“I like that these women never lost their integrity despite all adversities; they never looked for an easy way out and they never gave up. It’s all extremely inspiring. It’s an important story nowadays because suddenly immigration is all over the news and people have opinions about it. This film educates the audience about what it takes to live in the US legally and quite honestly. It also shows that, unfortunately, just having a Visa is not the end of an immigrant’s problems and the prejudice is not over,” said Zortea.

In the film, Zortea plays Jessica Ferronato, Zortea’s real-life alter ego. She’s a journalist who dreams of being an international correspondent, and at a point in Zortea’s life, she wanted to do the same. Jessica feels like she doesn’t get the opportunities she would like to in her job because she wasn’t born in the United States, and she then writes a book about her experiences. She’s the hero of the story, she’s the one who brings the other two main characters together.

Zortea relates to Jessica immensely. She used her real-life experiences and put them in the script, like not being able to travel home when her grandmother was in the hospital, and having a heartbreaking phone call with her father because he wanted her to move back to Brazil. By incorporating these stories, she was able to completely embody Jessica, and her authentic portrayal is completely captivating.

“Priscila's acting work was impeccable. She was so real in her interpretation, always bringing a lot of honesty to her character. The film shows the characters in different parts of their lives and Priscila really gave unique interpretations to every scene, making it very clear that we were in different years and her character Jessica was living through a different time of her life. She was extremely committed to her work and allowed herself to be vulnerable to tell this special story that will speak to so many people. I really couldn't ask for anything else from an actor I work with,” said Vitor Cardoso, Director.

The Countries We Love premiered at the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival in December of last year, one of the biggest and most important Brazilian film festivals in the United States, a great honor for Zortea. It recently was shown at Lift-Off First Time Filmmakers Sessions, which is one of the many festivals that the Lift-Off group has around the world, and this month it will screen in Miami at Indie Pasion Ibero-American Film Festival. It is expected to continue this trend throughout the year.

“This film was made out of love and really a call to action when it comes to bringing this story to life, success was not the goal of it, but of course we will welcome it. It feels great to see so many people relating to the film and seeing that the story is similar to theirs. That’s my favorite part, when someone comes to talk to me and says how touched they were by the film because it was an honest portrayal of what they go through. It warms my heart and that’s why I made the film,” she concluded.

Be sure to check out The Countries We Love to be educated, entertained, and inspired by Zortea’s outstanding work.

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