2nd Brazilian Film Festival of Vancouver
Reviewer Ed Farolan
Director Maurico Farias
Date and Venue 8 July 2009 | 18.45h & 20.45h Vancity Theatre, Vancouver
It's sad how in developing countries children are susceptible to violence. In one dialogue of the film, Leandro tells Veronica that he saw a child being burned with car tires after being shot. This is indeed a reality film reflecting the violence and corrupton of the Brazilian police in cahoots with gangsters who wave their machine guns and weapons as though they were children's toys.
The Festival's encore in Vancouver presents this opening film of the festival on July 8 at 6:30 pm, It is a drama about a disillusioned and stressed public school teacher in an underprivileged neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, who, after 20 years of teaching at a public school, is burnt out and has lost her patience with her the students. One day at school, Verônica realizes that nobody comes to pick up Leandro, an 8-year-old boy, and she decides to take him home. But when she arrives in his slum neighbourhood, she finds out that drug dealers have killed his parents and are after Leandro. She knows she can’t leave him there, so Verônica flees with the boy. The police are involved as they have their cut from the drug dealers,
The ending of the film is an interesting one. She is finally caught and the climax, (which I will not reveal, of course) is...will she be killed or does she escape? Go see the film and you'll find out if it's a happy or tragic ending.
Director Guel Arraes
Date and Venue 10 July 2009 | 18.30h Vancity Theatre, Vancouver
Brazilian films have been associated with urban violence (City of God, Veronica, for example) but in this film, we see no trace of violence. In fact, there is a lot of romance, comedy and some soft porn sex. It's the story of two theatre actors who fall in love while doing the 12th century narrative Tristan and Isolde.
I like this film. It's funny, witty, intellectual, and artistically done. The plot is almost clicheic in the sense that it deals with the stereotype conflicts of love and marriage, the love triangle, and so forth. But for theatre buffs, this film which somehow reflects the Pirandellian motif is charming and delightfully amusing. I like the part towards the end where a TV soap opera version of this love story is done, set in pre-colonial northern Brazil. The ending is funny and out of the ordinary. It's a film worth watching.
Ultima Parada 174
Director Bruno Bareto
Date and Venue 9 July 2009 | 20.45h Vancity Theatre, Vancouver
Ultima Parada 174 (Last Stop 174) is based on a true happening that took place in the southside of Rio Janeiro on June 12, 2000, It shows us the sequence of events that took place in the life of Sandro, a poor 22 years old boy that hijacks Bus 174 and takes a few hostages .
This film is another of those City of God types of films reflecting the dismal and violent situation of street kids in developing countries. Sandro is another victim of poverty, drugs, and violence. There is no happy ending to situations like these.
Despite the fact that I don't enjoy this type of film as it's obviously depressing, the direction and actors did extremely good work. It was selected as Brazil's nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2009 Oscars. The screenplay was written by Braulio Mantovani and Michel Gomes plays Sandro..
Palavra (En)cantada (The Enchanted Word)
Director Helena Soldberg
Date and Venue 9 July 2009 | 18.30h Vancity Theatre, Vancouver
Brazilian popular music is a vehicle for poetry and literature in Brazil, a country with a strong oral tradition. This meticulously researched film includes rare archival images, a rich soundtrack, and performances and interviews with singers, songwriters, and poets including Adriana Calcanhotto, Arnaldo Antunes, Chico Buarque, Lirinha, Lenine, Maria Bethânia, Martinho da Vila, and Tom Zé.
This is truly an educational film which begins with an explanation of how the tradition of the trouvadors evolved into the Brazilian music traidition, and how oral tradition has been more of a Brazilian way of life than literature. The film includes interesting archival footage and we see the connection of Bossa Nova which put Brazil in the international music scene through Jobim and Gilberto and its influences from the favela to the samba.
But the catchword in this documentary is the use of the word and how words express storytelling in the form of, say, "educational" rap to attract the youth, or the new eclectic trend currently popular, called Tropicalia. Very interesting insights from the different interviewees on the evolution of Brazilian music.
Favela On Blast
Directors Leandro HBL, Wesley Pentz
Date and Venue 10 July 2009 | 20.45h Vancity Theatre, Vancouver
An almost exact opposite to Palavra Encantada, this documentary shows the culture of funk carioca, a musical rhythm that merges American funk of the 1980s with several Brazilian sounds. Just as rap/funk found its roots in the slms of New York, the baile funk, has its roots in one of the violent shanty towns of Rio de Janeiro. Footage shows police clamping down on these rappers and interviews from the different performers who owe their rhythms to Miami's American bass. The film also shows how the Brazilian funk is a vehicle for women's liberation, and it shows interviews with women rappers who talk about the success of their recordings and performances.
Cinderellas, Wolves, and One Enchanted Prince
Director Joel Zito Araújo
Date and Venue 11 July 2009 | 18.30h Vancity Theatre, Vancouver
This is an excellent but quite long documentary -- almost two hours long. But it was well-researched, the interviews were superior, and the information gathered was very enlightening. Although most of the cases ended up tragically, there were a few who found their "enchanted prince". Zito found the "lucky" ones in Berlin. The focus of the documentary was on the black women of Brazil, and as one interviewee pointed out, they are the impoverished ones in that country. The film journeys from the northeast of Brazil to Berlin and Zito seeks answers to understanding how these young Cinderellas end up in northern Europe. There were some funny scenes -- I liked the interview with the transvestite, and I felt sad about the plight of children sexually exploited. A female senator broke down into tears during the interview because she had tried to find a solution, but she ended up with an "I don't know" to this problem, which not only plagues Brazil but other developing countries as well. The film started quite aptly with the song "Fascination" in Portuguese sung by an actress performing in a live show in Berlin, and ended with a slow instrumental rendition of "Brazil" as the final credits were displayed.
Smoking I Wait
Director Adriana L. Dutra
Date and Venue 11 July 2009 | 18.30h Vancity Theatre, Vancouver
I didn't find this documentary interesting at all. There's just been too much negative propaganda about smoking and to come up with another documentary of this nature is adding insult to injury. The documentary was made for, obviously, personal reasons. In the attempt at quitting her own addiction, Dutra decides to produce a documentary expressing her concerns. She interviews different people which gets to be boring after a while, and juxtaposes the interviews with animation. If she had done a shorter version, instead of an 86-minute full-length documentary, it might have worked.
© 2009 Ed Farolan