By Mary Jane Marcasiano
The Premiere Brazil section of the 2013 Rio Film Festival opened September 27th at the Odeon Cinema, located in Cinelandia, a downtown Rio plaza where key cultural and government landmarks are located, such as the Municipal Theater, National Library and City Assembly. Due to a teachers strike that has been going on for 45 days the Plaza has been occupied by supporters of the teachers who are protesting for better salaries.
The festival's premieres of Brazilian cinema have traditionally screened at this location but after a few nights of disruption by nearby protests, the festival decided to move this section of the festival to other venues. In an interesting juxtaposition of reality and art, a few of this years Premiere Brazil selections are set in the dictatorship era and deal with the of subjects of anarchy and repression.
There was no real impact on the Odeon screenings until Monday night when violence broke out between striking teachers, violent agitators and the police. Festival goers entered the theater without problems for the 9:30pm screening of Sergio Bianchi's The Beheading Game / Jogo das Capitações (pictured above) Ironically the opening scene of the film used archival footage of actor Sergio Mamberte, as a 70s revolutionary, demonstrating how to make a Molotov cocktail, while outside the theater police were setting off tear gas bombs and using rubber bullets to disperse the protestors. The film starred Fernando Alves Pinto, who gave a compelling performance as the disenfranchised son of a tortured 70s revolutionary seeking compensation from the government.
Due to continued protests in the area, Tuesday evening's premiere of another 70s themed film, Tatoo / Tatuagem, (pictured above right), was moved from the Odeon to a different venue and postponed till midnight. Fortunately this did not discourage the Rio film crowd who turned out in full force and were treated to what was so far, along with Marcelo Gomes and Cão Guimarães' hypnotic feature The Man of the Crowd / O Homem das Multidões (pictured left), the highlight of the Premiere Brazil selection.
Tatuagem, also set in the dictatorship era, is the love story between a young gay military man and the head of a revolutionary theater group which comes up against censorship. Written and directed by Hilton Lacerda, the screenwriter of Amarelo Mango and Árido movie, the film features beautiful performances by Jesuita Barbosa and Irandhir Santos, (Neighboring Sounds). Lacerda's use of music, choreography and impressionistic cinematography expresses the heady times of the period and the sexuality of the characters.
The Rio Film Festival and Premiere Brazil continues until October 10th with the closing film, Serra Pelada, a story set during the 1980s gold rush in Amazonia, directed by Heitor Dhalia (O Cheiro do Ralo, A Deriva).