This past Tuesday, Brazil’s Academia Brasileira de Cinema (ABC) announced that O Grande Circo Místico / The Great Mystical Circus, the 18th feature film by veteran director Carlos (Cacá) Diegues and starring French actor Vincent Cassel has been selected to represent South America’s largest nation at the 91st Academy Awards.
Chosen from a pool of twenty-one other highly-qualified contenders, the final decision took place after only two hours of deliberation at São Paulo’s Cinemateca Brasileira. This week’s selection represents Brazil’s 46th submission to the competition and the 7th by director Diegues.
Considered a pioneer of Brazil’s Cinema Novo, Diegues’ previous submissions for Oscar consideration included Xica da Silva (1976), Bye Bye Brasil (1979), and Tieta do Agreste (1996) - none of which earned him an official nomination into the category for Best Foreign Language Film. Brazil itself has only made the Oscar’s shortlist once for Cao Hamburger’s drama The Year My Parents Went on Vacation in 2007.
Despite having received overtly lukewarm reviews from both domestic and international critics alike after its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last May and despite having not secured a North American theatrical release, The Great Mystical Circus is now set to receive an estimated R$200,000 Brazilian Reals of financial support (approximately $47, 737 USD) from the Brazilian government, the Audiovisual Secretary, the Ministry of Culture, and Brazil’s national cinema agency (ANCINE) to campaign for a hopeful Oscar nomination.
The magical-realist romantic drama—based on a 1938 poem by Brazilian polymath Jorge de Lima —chronicles five generations of a prosperous Austrian family and their saga of touring the world with their family-owned circus. Starting in 1910, the film follows the lives, loves, and lusts of this troop of performers over more than a century.