The Inffinito Group
3rd Brazilian Film Festival of Vancouver

Dates and Venue 15-18 July | Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour Street), Vancouver

Reviewers Robyn Thomas & Ed Farolan

Dzi Croquettes is a 2009 Brazilian Documentary about an eccentric and passionate theatre group that survived the harsh Brazilian Dictatorship of the 1970’s. The film is directed by Raphael Alvarez and Tatiana Issa, whose father (Americo Issa) worked with the group and gave Tatiana the unique delight of growing up with the artists backstage. The film begins by juxtaposing the censorship of the Brazilian government with the raw passion and sexuality of the Dzi Croquettes, who started out as a group of 13 males dressed up as women.Struggling with government censorship, homophobic sentiment and the oncoming of AIDS, the Dzi Croquettes held onto their originality and sense of humour. Each member uniquely artistic, they found a sense of family and belonging with one another. The film balances footage of the Dzi Croquettes with interviews of the surviving members, as well as those who had the joy of being touched by their influence. Through glitter and liberated talent, they not only provoked the gay movement but also revolutionized how the world viewed sexuality. The film is infused with such passion that after its viewing I searched out a Brazilian Salsa dance party and danced the rest of the night away.

© 2010 Robyn Thomas

The opening film on July 15 is Historias de Amor Duram Apenas 90 Minutos (Love Stories Last Only 90 Minutes), (Dir. Paulo Halm), a comedy about a 30-year old writer who suspects his wife is a lesbian. It is the proverbial love triangle dilemma where our protagonist ends up having an affair with his wife's supposed lover. This is quite an entertaining film, sort of semi-erotic with soft-porn footage of sex scenes including a menage a trois, yet in good artistic taste. Filmmaker Halm skillfully mixes the protagonist's fantasies with his existentialist ruminations, as he struggles with writer's block to write his detective novel inspired by the works of Brazilian writer Rubem Fonseca.

Based on the book of the same title by Denise Paraná, the closing film on July 18, Lula, O Filho do Brasil (Lula, The Son of Brazil) is based on the life of Brazil's current President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and his extraordinary and inspiring rise above hardship. The film looks at his impoverished childhood as a shoe shine boy, to 1980 when he became the leader of the Workers' Party. Directed by Academy Award-nominated director Fábio Barreto, the film was released on January 1, 2010. With a budget of over 17 million reais, it is the most expensive Brazilian film to date. I liked the way the film was done, with black and white archival footage inserted to give the historical context of the political turmoil during Brazil's political dictatorship in the 70s and the problems the Unions had with the government. A moving scene was the death of his mother Dona Lindu. In this scene, Lula is released from jail for a few hours just to attend her funeral. In the closing scene, again, from archival footage, as he gives his inaugural speech as President, he dedicates his certificate of presidency to his mother.

© 2010 Ed Farolan