Smiling Eyes

Documentary series for web | COLOR | Sound | 3 episodes  | 10′ | 2020

Smiling Eyes is a documentary series about people with long-term facial paralysis. The difficulties of relating to the world around them without the control of such spontaneous and fundamental movements for human communication are treated in a light way in three episodes directed by Paulo Mendel. Each episode tells a story of the physical and emotional transformation of different cases and shows unexpected examples of overcoming difficulties, in addition to those obtained in the long treatment of connecting feelings with facial expressions.

Conceived by Gabriela de Palhano, TV Globo reporter also affected by facial paralysis, the series was conceived and produced in partnership with BlankTape. The episodes take place in Goiânia, São Paulo and Recife. In 2020, filming would begin outside Brazil, but the project was interrupted due to the covid-19 pandemic.



EPISODE 1 – Little Princess
The strength and delicacy of Giovana, an 11-year-old girl, who is born with facial paralysis and from an early age faced bullying and rare problems for such a young child. After having a visible improvement with the treatment abroad, nothing stops her from pursuing her big dream: to be an actress. The episode embarks on little Giovana’s worldview, from her innocent princess pranks to a surprising conversation with her cousin and best friend, Bia, in which they reveal something that was hidden so far. (Goiás, Brazil)

EPISODE 2 – The First Note
Trumpeter since the age of 8, Wellington doesn’t give up playing in the church orchestra even though he cannot play his instrument during years of sequels due to the bell’s palsy. He and Anésio, a co-worker who noticed the appearance of the first symptoms, recall the long period in which the smile triggered in Wellington the feeling of shame, not joy, which gradually changed him as a person. When a problem with his son João Pedro comes up, he rethinks his life and finds reasons to smile again. (São Paulo Brazil)

EPISODE 3 – Glasses
A serious car accident marks the story of Fernanda. Despite suffering from multiple traumas, her biggest challenge is to express herself due to her bilingual anomie and bilateral facial paralysis, which prevents her from crying even on the saddest day of her life. It is the daily life between art and culture that inspires her to continue recovering. Behind the lenses of her inseparable glasses, she is still on recovery and searching for what she calls a “new harmony”. (Pernambuco Brazil)



“The challenges in communicating that the people of this series go through are also my own when it comes to capturing these stories with the camera. Even in a close up some expressions may go unnoticed, but the sparkle in the eyes will not. We are looking for that spark in each episode – which makes the eyes smile – in and out of the picture. “

Director’s Statement



Screenplay, Direction, Photography and Editing |  Paulo Mendel

Original Idea, Interviews and Direct Sound | Gabriela de Palhano

In order of appearance |   [EPISODE 1]   Giovana Rosseto, Vanessa Rosseto, Hélder Rocha Leão, Rodrigo Rosseto, Carina Oliveira, Beatriz Rocha Santos   [EPISODE 2]   Wellington de Aguilar, Anésio Evangelista, Aline Sodocco, João Pedro de Aguilar

Opening Song | “Charms – 02 Train” – Sergey Cheremisinov

Songs |    [EPISODE 1]   “Giant iPhone” – Rage, “Morning” – Text Me Records /, “Tupelo Train” – Chris Haugen   [EPISODE 2]   “Amazing Grace” – John Newton, “Searching for You” – White Hex, “Gaia in Fog” – Dan Bodan, “The Things that Keep Us Here” – Scott Buckley, “Home” – Spectrum (feat. Ria Choony), “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” – Martinho Lutero  

Post Production and Mixing  |   Gabriel Perin  

Color Correction |   [EPISODE 1]   Daniel Bona   [EPISODE 2]   Gabriel Perin 

Executive Production | Elena Pashova e Gabriela de Palhano

Thanks to |  Lilian Rachid, Thaisa Coelho, Soraya de Palhano, Rose Pinto Alves, Sofia Bettencourt,  Antonio Ananias, Alex Pashov, Jana Fialova   [EPISODE 1]   Rancho JS, Colégio Agostiniano N. Sra. de Fátima, alunos de teatro, Raquel Rocha Santos   [EPISODE 2]   ANATEL, Gibi Academia, Restaurante Dr Tchê La Parrilla de La Villa,  Sivaldo Lima 

With the Support of | Crystal Touch

Post production | BlankTape