Beyond the mainstream: 4 Brazilian movies that represent the Brazilian culture well

Brazilian cinema has had its own style since it first started making films. Movies like City of God, Carandiru and Elite Squad have won international fame in the last few years, but Brazil goes much further than representing a favela lifestyle (as these movies do) so well-known in other countries. Many directors offer controversial movies which deal with different elements of Brazilian culture and which, unfortunately, don’t get as much visibility as they should.
Among so many remarkable cinema moments representing the Brazilian social reality and way of life, a few should be emphasized:

Terra em Transe ( Glauber Rocha – 1967)
During the peak of the AI-5 (Institutional Act n°5, which brought the extinction of democracy and the implantation of a militaristic dictatorship in the country), the director brings a fictional nation to the screen which faces the same problems. The landmark movie from the movement Cinema Novo, which was influenced both by Nouvelle Vague and Italian Neorealism, received an Award at the Cannes Festival.

Rio Babilônia (Neville de Almeida – 1982)
Among the pornochanchadas that ruled in the 1970/80, the movie still manages to have an sociocritical touch. It is truly a magnifier of the Cariocas’ (people from Rio de Janeiro) way of life, a narrative that involves politics, the press and the relation with drugs and mineral exploitation, all within a strong social atmosphere.

Terra estrangeira (Walter Salles – 1996)
Brazil was living the inconstancy of the Collor Era – thus leading to the extinction of Embrafilme for film-makers (the channel responsible for most of the support programs of Brazilian cinema). The movie, also filmed in Portugal, focuses exactly on this financially difficult period inside the country and a very “seductive” alternative: trying to live in another country, whether legally or not.

Amarelo Manga (Claudio Assis – 2002)
An emblematic work among the new productions of directors from Pernambuco, the movie marked the return of movie making in the state’s tradition (initiated in the 1930’s). It is about the metropolitan life of Recife’s inhabitants, characterized in an enervating way, with actors who appeared in many of the national productions that followed, like Matheus Nachtergaele and Dira Paes.

These are just some of the many movies that portrait Brazil from a different angle: with its blemishes and most banal everyday situations (that can still be inspiring, through their artful staging).

What about you? Which Brazilian movie should go in (or out) of this list?


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2 thoughts on “Beyond the mainstream: 4 Brazilian movies that represent the Brazilian culture well”

  1. City of God is definitely one of my favorite movies of all time! I’ll make sure I watch the other ones that you wrote about. Cool article!

  2. I have my favorites, such as “Todas as Mulheres do Mundo”
    altough it’s an old movie and may be hard to find.

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