: Narrative Feature
GENRE: Drama
STATUS: Completed


A young Brazilian woman in New York City ends her tumultuous relationship with an American man, and then discovers that she is carrying his child. The couple’s struggle to interact during the pregnancy and to deal with the situation increases the tension between them.


Set in contemporary New York City, Cacaya follows a Brazilian woman, an American man, and the consequences of the actions they take during the break-up of their relationship.  Peter Azen's film interweaves this modern narrative with indigenous Amazonian rainforest folklore and ancient Greek mythology, using the framework of German dramatist Heinrich von Kleist's 1808 tragedy Penthesilea.  Cacaya is based on true events, and is the story of people caught in miscommunication, capturing the challenges of creating a new life in a foreign country.


Cacaya is Peter Azen’s first narrative feature film, which he began writing in the summer of 2015 and completed in October 2016. The film was shot in eleven days, which was only possible with the support of a very talented and dedicated cast and crew that stood fully behind this project.

The screenplay of Cacaya emerged from, and further develops, the idea of transformation, a common theme in the mythologies of indigenous Amazon tribes, where it explains why things are the way they are and animals and man constantly transform and become one another. Pregnancy is similarly transformative, bringing both temporary and permanent changes to women’s bodies, minds and their whole existence.

Cacaya is also a story of people lost in communication, with the three main characters representing three different continents - South America, North America and Europe – which also alludes to the triangle of von Kleist’s Penthesilea, in which the warring Greeks and Trojans were unsure for whom the similarly belligerent Amazons were fighting. My lead actress, who only possessed beginner English skills at the time of the shoot, was able to authentically capture the frustrations, challenges, realizations, progress, setbacks and changes of the immigrant outsider, thus linking to a very timely and relevant topic.

For this screenplay to become reality, I decided to view the images through the lens of a female cinematographer, and chose to work with Karli Kopp. Karli is very skilled at translating a director’s nuanced vision into the images she captures. To achieve the film’s desired look and texture, Karli used a Sony FS7 camera to create digital 4K footage. For visual references, Karli and I looked at the work of favorite filmmakers such as Julio Bressane, Béla Tarr, Mario Peixoto, and Tsai Ming-Liang. Using these filmmakers’ interpretations as a starting point, we created our own vision of Cacaya’s world. To enhance the mood and the tone of the film, the film’s score similarly explores transformation by interweaving public-domain Brazilian songs with a contemporary, original score by drummer Matt Thompson and guitarist Joshua Deane. Cacaya thus fuses a wide range of complementary references from literary, performing and fine arts in a poetic, though linear, way.


Peter Azen - Writer/Director

Making movies since his childhood in Brazil, Peter graduated as an Electronic Engineer from the University of Surrey, England. In 2006, he moved to New York, where he worked for various independent production companies and distribution companies. Peter studied Graphic Design, Photography and Filmmaking, and gained experience working on documentaries, short films and experimental films. Peter is a Co-founder and Creative Director of Illium Pictures, a collective of award-winning writers, directors, editors, producers, and cinematographers based in Brooklyn, New York. Most recently, Peter joined the inaugural class of Brooklyn College’s Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, which is housed at the Steiner Studios, while putting the finishing touches on a documentary about the father of Brazilian modern furniture, Sergio Rodrigues. Peter’s latest short film, The Queue, screened at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro (MAM-RJ) in April 2015, and some of his other films have been shown in independent theaters, museums and galleries throughout the U.S., as well as in Brazil, the U.K., Germany and India.

Forrest McClain - Producer

Forrest McClain is an accomplished New York City-based film producer and director, and a graduate of NewYork University’s prestigious film school. Forrest recently produced the science-fiction feature film Imitation Girl, directed by long-term colleague Natasha Kermani, and was production manager on the feature film TakeCare, directed by Liz Tuccillo (Sex and the City) and executive produced by John Melfi (House of Cards, Rome, Nurse Jackie). In addition, Forrest produces branded content and commercial work for high-profile clients such as Intel, L’Oreal, Lululemon, TAG Heuer, Duracell and MTV.

Alastair Murdoch - Producer

Growing up in England, Alastair belonged to a youth theatre group before studying French and German, with French and German Drama, at the University of Kent, England, and the Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Together with his wife, Claudia, Alastair co-founded Cup of Joe Film, Inc. in 2013, while studying screenwriting at New York’s New School. A professional reading from Alastair’s first feature-length screenplay, Both Sides, was performed at the 2015 Topanga Film Institute & Festival, after the same work received an Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles Film & Script Festival in 2014. Alastair is currently studying Advanced Screenwriting at NYU’s School of Professional Studies, and is a Finalist in the Oaxaca FilmFest 2016 Global Script Challenge. He is a member of BAFTA New York, and a board member and judge of Rome, GA’s Rome International Film festival.

Claudia Murdoch - Producer

Claudia is an independent film producer living in New York. Most recently, she produced the City College MFA thesis film Time is the Longest Distance and was an Executive Producer on Natasha Kermani’s sci-fi feature film Imitation Girl. Intervention, one of Claudia’s previous productions was nominated in the “Best Short Film” categories at the Rome International Film Festival, the Harlem International Film Festival, the Silent River Film Festival in 2014 and the Sedona International Film Festival in 2015. A native of Germany, Claudia worked in sales and marketing for luxury hotels, as well as in network development for OgilvyOne worldwide in New York. She obtained a BBA in Marketing with a concentration in International Advertising from Pace University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Claudia is a co-founder of Cup of Joe Film, and a member of New York Women in Film and Television and SAG-Aftra, and she is currently developing several narrative feature film projects.

Karli Kopp - Cinematographer

Karli Kopp is a freelance cinematographer and filmmaker based in New York City. Born and raised in the bleak suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, she shot her first films on HI8 cameras. Karli moved to NYC to pursue a BFA in Film and graduated from Brooklyn College in 2014. Since then, she has shot and worked as a camera assistant, camera operator, and in the electrical department on a number of films, music videos, and documentaries. 


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