Jungle Reviews: the 4th Brazilian Film Festival in London

From September 21 until 25, screen three at the Panton Street Odeon wasn’t big enough to accommodate the audience of the 4th Brazilian Film Festival in London. The festival, organized by the cultural producer Inffinito, was a success, with all screenings sold out.

There were a diverse selection of short and feature-length films, 24 films in total, all of which had their premieres at the London event. One of the festival’s main aims is to promote the new crop of contemporary Brazilian cinema not as something “exotic”, but as professional cinema, full of character and freshness.

Above all, the festival programme of 2012 presented a wide range of films, including documentaries, dramas, animations and comedies, moving away from the “favela aesthetic” seen in films like City of God and Elite Squad, and even being able to laugh about it in the favela movie satire, Totally Innocent, by Rodrigo Bittencourt.

The great winner at the festival, according to the public’s choice, was the feature I Will Raffle My Heart, from the director Ana Rieper. The short film The Factory, by Aly Muritiba, won the same prize in its category.

Other highlights of the festival were: Captains of Sand, based on Jorge Amado’s classic novel, about a gang of street kids in the city of Salvador; and the documentaries Raul – O Início, o Fim e o Meio and Rock Brasília, both focused on telling the story of Brazilian’s rock and roll icons.

The closing night of the festival astonished the spectators with the photography masterpiece Xingu, directed by Cao Hamburger and produced by Fernando Meirelles. Focusing on the true story of three brothers who embarked on a great adventure by enlisting for the Roncador-Xingu expedition, it tells their tale of a trailblazing mission through Central Brazil.

In this feature, the director brilliantly shows both Brazilians and the world, how these men managed to create the National Xingu Park, saving thousands of Indians from murder and from death by diseases. In the words of João Miguel, the main highlight of the film Xingu was about the moment Brazil was experiencing and “the great revolution is all about the complementarity of difference.” I couldn’t have put it better myself!

Some might say that all this interest on Brazil is due the fact that the country will host the next World Cup and the next Olympic Games, and also because of Brazil’s economic acceleration, by contrast to Europe’s decline, but, regardless of all the speculation, Brazilian cinema is maturing and becoming more professional.

Filmmakers like Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener and Blindness) and Walter Salles (Motorcycle Diaries and On The Road); and actors like Maria Flor (360) and Rodrigo Santoro (Che) are opening up new possibilities and gaining recognition through their participation in international productions over the past 10 years. Brazilian cinema is also being sponsored by the government, namely BNDES and Ancine, and by private companies as well. That said, showing films overseas become a necessity. According to the festival director Adriana Dutra, the 5th edition of the Brazilian Film Festival will be back in London in 2013 – hopefully with an even wider range of films and on more screens. We will definitely be there.

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