The third annual London Brazilian Film Festival opens on Tuesday 6 Sept at BAFTA. The five day event promises the best of the nation’s latest cinematic releases, as well as guest appearances and interviews, short films and documentaries. FilmJuice takes a brief look into the Brazil’s cinematic history.
The third annual London Brazilian Film
Festival opens on Tuesday 6 Sept at BAFTA. The five day event
promises the best of the nation’s latest cinematic releases, as well as guest
appearances and interviews, short films and documentaries. FilmJuice takes a brief
look into the Brazil’s cinematic history.
The product of the Brazilian Film industry
has only reached an international scale over the past two decades. Academy
award nomination from the likes of Walter Salles’ Central Station (1998) and Fernando Merelles/Katia Lund’s City of God (2002) bore light on some unearthed talent and paved the way for
But the sense of social realism
incorporated in these films has been established in Brazilian cinema since the
introduction of Cinema Nóvo (new cinema) in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Before
this time, Cinédia largely populated the theatres of the country. As means of
drawing in a large crowd, the concentration of filmmakers lay in producing
dramas and musical comedies, later adding an adaptation on the American
gangster genre to the mix. It was these commercial productions that were what
inhabited the film industry, greatly helped by a decree issued by President
Getulio Vargos, that still exists today, that guaranteed Brazilian films
exhibition in its theatres.
This conformity to genre sparked rebellion
in the industry, who established Cinema Nóvo around the movements of Italian
Neo-realism and Nouvelle Vague to move away from the glamour and violence of
the commercial film and establish the independent filmmaking of contemporary
A key player in this movement was director
Nelson Pereira dos Santos. Often donned the “father” and even at times “The
Pope” of Cinema Novo, dos Santos was the leader in incorporating neo-realism
into filmmaking, through techniques such as filming on location and using a non
In an interview he once confirmed “The film
clubs gave us no contact with Brazilian cinema, and film-club goers resigned
themselves to watching the history of cosmopolitan cinema, by which I mean the
great American films and French classics.”
“It all boiled down to not relying on the
intermediation of capital in order to make films at home: ‘the author and
reality’, ‘the people as artists ‘and all the basic principles of Neo-realism.
That, in short, is the basis of my career.”
Benchmark films by dos Santos including Rio
100 Degrees F (1955) and Hunger for Love (1968) pin pointed a career that carried on right through to 2006,
and has encaptured a generation of Brazilians who emanate his political and
One of the country’s most renowned exports City
of God used the same principles established by dos
Santos to narrate the story of a young man’s pursuit of a career in photography
though the gang ridden streets of Rio de Janeiro. The film received 4 Oscar
nominations and director Fernando
Meirelles went on to direct The Constant Gardener and a host of Brazilian films since.
It’s the decisions, political and social
shifts that have propelled the country’s film industry to the international
stage it is today and that for the past few years London has been able to play
international host to some of the best of Brazilian. The festival’s opening
night screening is The Man of The Future, Claudio Torres’ perhaps more escapist
tale of a brilliant scientist (Elite Squad’s Wagner Moura) accidently
travels in time and changes his life’s events.
A greater nod to
Nóvo would perhaps come from Friday’s Boca; an account of an upper-middle class
bohemian charged with the murder of his father. Punctuating the broad screen
capers and the social critiques are documentaries about samba, (Izabel and Ernesto Jaguaribe Baldan’s Elza) an account of the Brazilian music through the 60s
and 70s (Sons of Joao – The Admirable New Baiano World) and a Romeo and Juliet tragedy told through the
medium of football (Bruno Barreto’s Romeo and Juliet Get Married.)
For more information about the London Brazillian Film Festival, click here.