The new face of Brazil in the UK
Lino Facioli, our cover star, embodies the way Brazilian culture has integrated into the United Kingdom, like no other.
It only takes five minutes to realise that Lino Facioli isn’t your typical 10 year old. His incredibly detailed knowledge of the original Star Wars trilogy encompasses outer space as well as an enthusiasm for vintage attire. So much so that the lad arrives at the photo session in a Shoreditch studio dressed as if he’s just left a drama set in the Second World War. You don’t normally see 10 year old boys showing promise in the world of cinema either, let alone with a CV already boasting a film alongside British comedian Russell Brand (as his son in Get Him to the Greek), and an epic series for American channel HBO (Games of Thrones, still in production).
This boy’s case turns out to be somewhat more uncommon since he also symbolises a new dynamic between the Brazilian community and the UK. Although he was born in Riberão Preto, in the interior of São Paulo state, and has lived in Brazil for half his life with his Brazilian parents, Lino’s roots are no longer exclusively fixed on the other side of the Atlantic. His formal education has been British, and the lack of regular contact with his homeland has created the collateral damage of a slight accent when speaking Portuguese and a limited familiarity with Brazilian routine.
At the same time, the young man benefits from his diverse upbringing. For a start, he didn’t arrive in London as part of a consignment of economic migrants. His father, Cako Facioli, is just as connected to the arts as his mother, Claudia Schmidek, (he being a visual animator, and she, an architect and jewellery designer), and they came to the United Kingdom in search of opportunities in their respective vocations, without the concern of sending money back to Brazil, for example. And neither of them were afraid to let their boy’s imagination soar. Claudia, for example, considered the glass half full when she was called in by one of Lino’s teachers, who reported the melodramatic behaviour of her son. Rather than being a case for psychologists, she recognised the boy to be simply experimenting with emotions. And she wasn’t anxious when Lino assumed the personalities of animals, or conversed with imaginary friends. “Once Lino arrived home explaining that he’d cried at school because his classmates had killed his imaginary dog. I never worried though, I thought it was important for him to let his feelings free.” When their son asked to join a drama school, it came as no surprise. “I knew that Lino was heading that way. He was always creating characters, and talked of getting involved in films. And he also knew what he wanted: he asked us to move him to a drama school because his didn’t have an agent to help him get roles”, she recalls.
At All Sorts Drama, a specialised school in south London for young actors, Lino made an immediate impression upon his arrival: in his first audition, one month after starting classes there, the director of Eloise in Paris, a film starring the Swedish actress Uma Thurman, re-wrote the script, adding in a part especially for Lino, so impressed was he with the boy’s resourceful nature during the auditions. Lino’s now one of the school’s hot properties, especially after having worked alongside Brand, an experience that at first might seem nerve-racking given the outrageous character of the comedian. “I absolutely loved Russell, but because he’s a really simple guy; he doesn’t act like a celebrity. We chatted a bit and he gave me lots of advice”, tells Lino. Ironically, the young man still hasn’t managed to witness the end product of his work, as Get Him… is rated for over 15’s only. Despite missing the relatives and friends that he visits each year in Brazil, the young actor doesn’t feel a desire to return. “I’ve already forgotten a lot of things about what it was like to live there and I like my life here. But I also love going on holiday to Brazil”. Claudia and Cako also don’t see reason to plan a return at a time when the world is opening up for Lino. Although they do make a point of monitoring their son’s accent when he speaks Portuguese. “There was a time when he used to mispronounce the word ‘ball’ though”, jokes his mother.
Their life in the UK, however, doesn’t depend exclusively on his career as an actor, which Lino doesn’t feel under any obligation to continue in case one day he wakes up dreaming of taking another professional route. “While he’s enjoying it, it’s fine. Our role is to support him, not to put pressure on him. It’s important, too, when he doesn’t get a role in an audition, as it’s part of the learning experience”, Claudia asserts.
The young chap does, however, have to follow some rules, which include the responsible use of his earnings. The family saves more than they spend – Lino’s computer console, for example, is still a Playstation 2. “He doesn’t make a point of wanting the ‘latest’ computer game or TV, unlike most other kids his age. We try to give him an education in which he learns to spend or save money in a sensible way, using common sense, prioritising what’s important”, his mum explains.
Lino doesn’t show any signs of wanting to escape the limelight of the camera. Especially since he still dreams of one day appearing in Star Wars. “The original plan was to make nine films, so there’s still a chance”, says the boy, who’s fascination with George Lucas’ films is so great that for Halloween this year he took to the streets disguised as one of the sand monsters off Episode IV (which, with his parents, took three pairs of hands to put together). More immediate objectives include finishing reading Fundação, a classic science fiction novel written by Isaac Asimov, quite an unconventional option for a time in which children’s literature is dominated by witches.
But, as has already been mentioned, Lino is not just any ordinary boy. He wouldn’t give up Han Solo for Harry Potter and his aversion to the sorcerer made him vow to never want to work on a film in the series. “Not even if they offered me a million pounds”, he swears, and he also doesn’t like rap or pop; he prefers to forage in the adult music section for songs by the Beatles and Elvis Presley.
Migration and foreign affairs
Even Brazilians with the experience of living in the UK for a long time can sometimes be shocked by a change in the scene: the times in which Sonho de Valsa chocolates, feijoada or the classic pão-de-queijo were brought into the country as if they were contraband have made way for a much more varied offering of products and services. Clearly a consequence of the increase in the flux of arrivals of new immigrants, accelerating in the 1990s in the midst of confiscations of savings and economic plans.
And it intensified following 11th September 2001, when the terrorist attacks created a mixture of heightened defence and paranoia in the USA, traditionally the prime destination of Brazilians seeking to make a living far from home. But whilst economic migration was still going strong at the start of this century, there were a great many arriving to broaden their horizons, be it with programmes of study, or to invest in something a little less stereotyped of Brazilians.
Following the economic crisis in 2008 however, many decided to return home, above all what with the value of the real compared to the pound, proving bad for economic migrants. “What’s happening with the Brazilian community today has already happened to others, such as the Polish, who’ve also begun to return home”, says Laércio da Silva, president of Abras (the Brazilian Association in the UK), which provides the community with services and assistance.
The British government is also contributing with a toughening of the policies on immigration and with an economic programme of austerity that threatens to stall the economy. The seeds of a new vision of Brazil, however, already seem to have taken root. Laércio agrees. “This flow of immigrants coming and going is natural, it’s always existed, but it’s clear that economic crises and the difficulties of staying in a country may advance these plans”.
But despite the economic problems and changes in the laws on immigration, there are lots of Brazilians living legally in the UK, “be this because of dual citizenship (with a European passport), or due to having married with a European or Brit”, he says. “At Abras we’ve noticed an increase in the number of associates, and in the face of all these rumours Brazilians are still arriving and wanting to live in England”, he concludes.