Brazilian Cinema

O Aleijadinho, 1978

In the frenzy of festival coverage, a few noteworthy films always seem to slip through the cracks, and for me, this was the case with Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s short film, O Aleijadinho, screened during the filmmaker’s retrospective sidebar at the 2007 New York Film Festival. In hindsight, the film intriguingly prefigures Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Antonio… read more »

Macunaíma, 1969

In an early episode of Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s delirious, bawdy, idiosyncratically fragmented, and bluntly allegorical film, Macunaíma, the eponymous hero, having been abandoned by his impoverished family in the forest, encounters an ogre who then proceeds to placate the hungry child by feeding him a piece of flesh carved from his own leg –… read more »

The Master of Apipucos, 1959

Originally conceived as an installment in a two-panel portrait of prominent Brazilian intellectuals (and family friends), Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s The Master of Apipucos captures a day in the life of author and sociologist, Gilberto Freire whose highly influential book, The Masters and the Slaves examined the unique essence of Brazilian identity through the framework… read more »

The Priest and the Girl, 1965

Marking Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s first feature film, The Priest and the Girl hews closer to naturalism than modernism in its stark and muted Emile Zola-like tale of a young priest (Paulo José) who has been summoned to a small rural village in Minas Gerais in order to dispense extreme unction for the town’s terminally… read more »

Brasilia, Contradictions of a New City, 1967

Commissioned by Italian typewriter manufacturing company Olivetti in 1966 to showcase the construction of Brazil’s newly completed modern capital, Brasilia (and who then promptly shelved the completed work, perhaps because of its implicit critical inquiry), Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s exquisitely shot, articulate, and impassioned film, Brasilia, Contradictions of a New City, as its name suggests,… read more »

Garrincha, Joy of the People, 1962

Something like a kindred spirit to Hiroshi Teshigahara’s José Torres in its mundane observations of the dedicated craft and everyday rituals of a champion sportsman, Garrincha, Joy of the People is an affectionately rendered and thoughtful, if somewhat idealized portrait of Manoel Francisco dos Santos, affectionately called “Garrincha”, the Brazilian football star considered to be… read more »

A Poet of the Castle, 1951

A companion piece to Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s short film, The Master of Apipucos, The Poet of the Castle is a reverent portrait of beloved Brazilian modernist poet – and de Andrade’s godfather – Manuel Bandeira. Plagued by delicate health throughout his lifetime stemming from a childhood bout of tuberculosis, Bandeira’s daily ritual intrinsically reflects… read more »

Behave, 2006

Continuing in the vein of Justice, Maria Ramos’s examination of the Brazilian justice system, Behave is an equally potent and sobering social inquiry into the state’s juvenile re-socialization program. Working within the limitations of protecting the identity of the young offenders’ identities, the film is predominantly shot facing Judge Luciana Fiala, a conscientious juvenile court… read more »

Justice, 2004

In the subtly insightful opening sequence of the film, a disabled parking attendant is brought before a judge in a Rio de Janeiro criminal courtroom for a preliminary hearing stemming from a police arrest on a burglary charge. The defendant begins to provide an explanation for the circumstances of how he came to be at… read more »

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