Brazilian Marginal Cinema Director Andrea Tonacci Dies

Italian-born Brazilian filmmaker Andrea Tonacci, one of leading figures of the so-called Brazilian Marginal Cinema, died today at the age of 72 in Sao Paulo, victim of pancreatic cancer.

Born in Roma in 1944, he emigrated with his family to Brazil in 1953. He dropped his Architecture and Engineering studies to become a filmmaker. He directed the short films Ôlho por ôlho (1965), and Bla bla bla (1968) and was the cinematographer for Rogério Sganzerla's Red-Light Bandit / O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (1968), before making his 1971 classic debut feature Bang Bang / Bangue Bangue, which was selected for Cannes’ Directors Fortnight section.

A "Maoist detective comedy" as the filmmaker described his film, Bang Bang follows an anonymous urban protagonist as he experiences a series of absurd situations, each being more absurd than the last. With Red-Light Bandit and Júlio Bressane's 1969 Killed the Family and Went to the Cinema / Matou a Família e Foi ao Cinema, Tonacci's film became staples of what would later be labeled as Brazilian Marginal Cinema, made of ultra-low budget, nihilisitc, "anti-cinema" underground (udigrudi) films. These filmmakers rejected Cinema Novo's aesthetics and practices, and made a case for "aesthetics of garbarge." Other members of the Sao Paulo were Ozualdo Candeiais, Neville D’Almeida, Fernando Coni Campos, and Carlos Reichenbach.

Towards the end of the 1970s Tonacci decides to focus on indigenous documentaries Conversas no Maranhão (1977-83), Guaranis do Espírito Santo (1979), and Os Araras (1980). More recently, his documentary film Serras da desordem (2006), which portraits the massacre of the Awá-Guajá tribe in the 70s through the story of survivor Carapirú, was awarded the prizes for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Cinematography at the Gramado Film Festival. 

Tonacci last production was the 2014 Já visto jamais visto, a fictionalized personal essay film in which the filmmaker revisits his own memories with family photos, and his visual archive.