Cinema Tropical

Cannes 2016: Brazilian Films That Have Participated in the Official Competition

With the world premiere of Aquarius at the upcoming 69th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, director Kleber Mendonça Filho joins a select group of Brazilian filmmakers that have participated in the official competition at the world’s preeminent film festival.

Lima Barreto was the first Brazilian director to ever participate at Cannes with the film O Cangaceiro / The Bandit, which went to win the Award for Best Adventure Film at the 1953 festival. Barreto would return to the competition with the 1961 drama The First Mass / A Primeira Missa.

During the 1950s three productions directed by non-Brazilians would represent the South American country at the French Riviera: Samba Fantastico by Jean Manzon and René Persin in 1955, Sob o Céu da Bahia by Ernesto Remani in 1956, and Black Orpheus / Orfeu Negro by Marcel Camus in 1959, which went to win the coveted Palme d’Or. A year later, Roberto Farias would make his debut in the official competition of the festival with Cidade Ameaçada.

The first and only Brazilian filmmaker to receive the Palme d’Or was Anselmo Duarte (pictured above left receiving the award) with O Pagador de Promessas / The Given Word in 1962. Carrying a political and social punch, it’s a drama about biases and misunderstanding with a simple premise— a peasant farmer makes a vow to carry a cross into the local church if his injured donkey is cured. The film also went to get an Academy Award nomination.

The 1960s saw two other Brazilian films participated in the French competition: Men and Women / Noite Vazia by Walter Hugo Khouri in 1965, and The Hour and Turn of Augusto Matraga / A Hora e a Vez de Augusto Matraga by Roberto Santos in 1966.

Cannes celebrated the Brazil’s Cinema Novo with eight Brazilian films in competition in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Brazilian new wave figures Nelson Pereira dos Santos and Carlos Diegues have participated the most times at Cannes with three competition films each.

Pereira dos Santos’ films that have competed for the Palme d’Or include Barren Lives / Vidas Secas in 1964, The Alienist / Azyllo Muito Louco in 1970, and The Amulet of Ogum / O Amuleto de Ogum in 1975, while Carlos Diegues films included Bye Bye Brazil in 1980, Quilombo in 1984, and Subway to the Stars / Um Trem para as Estrelas in 1987.

Influential director Glauber Rocha has also participated in Cannes with two films, Black God, White Devil / Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol (1964) and Antonio das Mortes / O Dragão da Maldade Contra o Santo Guerreiro, which won the filmmaker Best Director, he is the only Brazilian filmmaker to receive the honor.

The 1980’s continued to celebrate figures of the Brazilian new wave with Arnaldo Jabor’s Love Me Forever or Never / Eu Sei que Vou Te Amar in 1986, for which Fernanda Torres was presented with the Best Actress Award, and Ruy Guerra’s Kuarup in 1989.

Argentinean-born Brazilian director Héctor Babenco has participated in the main competition in three different years: the first time in 1985 with Kiss of the Spider Woman (which earned the Best Actor Award for William Hurt), in 1998 with Corazón iluminado, and more recently in 2003 with Carandiru.

While the 1990’s seemed to witness a disappearance of Brazilian cinema it came back in full force at the turn of the century. After Babenco’s Carandiru in 2003, 2008 saw the unprecedented participation of three Brazilian filmmakers in the official competition: Fernando Meirelles with Blindness, and Walter Salles (pictured right) and Daniela Thomas with Linha de Passe, which was presented with the Best Actress Award for Sandra Corveloni. Salles returned at the main competition in 2012 with the international co-production On the Road based on the famed novel by Jack Kerouac.

Rodrigo Reyes’ Debut Fiction Film LUPE UNDER THE SUN to Premiere at LA Film Fest

The U.S.-Mexico co-production film Lupe Under the Sun / Lupe bajo el sol, Rodrigo Reyes’ follow up to his critically acclaimed documentary film Purgatorio, will have its World Premiere as an official selection in the World Fiction Competition at the 2016 edition of the L.A. Film Festival, running June 1-9. Filmed in a classic neorealist style, director Reyes’s deeply moving debut fiction feature, inspired by the life of his own grandfather, is at once an intimately drawn meditation on life’s missed chances and a tale of the universal struggles of immigrants.

Long estranged from his family in Mexico, migrant laborer Lupe finds relief from the backbreaking work of harvesting peaches in California’s Central Valley through beer-drenched camaraderie and a quiet love affair with fellow immigrant Gloria. Soon the stability of his daily routine begins to crack under the weight of a life scarred with regret and missed opportunities.

Playing with the limits between fiction and documentary, Reyes worked with non-professional actors, real farmworkers living in the heart of California, to tell a moving drama about an aging peach picker who wants to go back to his home in Mexico before he dies.

Rodrigo Reyes is an award-winning, Mexican-American filmmaker whose work has screened in nearly 50 film festivals around the world, including the LA Film Festival, Guadalajara International Film Festival and Documentary Fortnight at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, garnering rave reviews in the New York Times, Variety and other media outlets. Named one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine in 2013, he is an alumni of Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance Institute, California Humanities Council, NALIP, Film Independent and IFP Narrative and Documentary Labs.

Winner of Film Independent’s Canon Filmmaker Award and FICG in LA’s Post-Production Award, Lupe Under the Sun is an unforgettable film that heralds the arrival of an important new voice in American cinema.


Rodrigo Plá’s A MONSTER WITH A THOUSAND HEADS Opens in NY and LA in May

Music Box Films Release has announced the U.S. theatrical release of the Mexican film A Monster With a Thousand Heads / Un monstruo de mil cabezas, opening on Wednesday, May 11 at Film Forum and Lincoln Plaza Cinema, and on Friday, May 20 at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles followed by a national roll out.

Directed by renowned Uruguayan and Mexico-based director Rodrigo Plá, the gripping "woman against the system" thriller stars stage actress Jana Raluy making her ferocious screen debut—for which she won several awards including the Best Actress Award at the Havana Film Festival— and boasts an screenplay by Laura Santullo adapted from her own novel.

Hailed as "a lean and efficient mix of thriller, drama and socio-political commentary" (Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter), the film was nominated for six Ariel Awards (Mexico's Academy Awards) including for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Emilio Echevarría), and Best Editing. It had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, and has successfully played at numerous film festivals including AFI Fest and London.

A sharp, urgent tale of a distraught woman intent on protecting her family at all costs, A Monster With a Thousand Heads is an engrossing combination of thriller, drama and timely sociopolitical commentary.

The monster in question is feared and loathed in Mexico, as it is everywhere: the medical insurance industry.  Sonia (Raluy)’s critically ill husband requires an expensive medication their insurance company refuses to approve.  So we can’t help but admire her for taking matters into her own hands. 

What begins as a frustrating call to a bureaucratic phone tree, escalates into a grimly comic confrontation with her husband’s doctor as he luxuriates in a steam bath, and finally a violent hostage-taking standoff.  Sonia does battle with all 1000 heads of the insurance industry: its brilliant ability to hide behind obfuscation and pettiness, its callous disregard for human suffering and, ultimately, its corruption. 

A Monster With a Thousand Heads re-teams Uruguay-born, Mexico-raised Plá with screenwriter Laura Santullo, who also wrote the novel on which the film is based. The husband and wife pair have collaborated on all four of Plá’s feature films, notably his acclaimed debut The Zone, which won the Best First Film prize at the 2007 Venice Film Festival.

Three Films by Latino Directors to Premiere at the LA Film Fest

The LA Film Festival announced today the competition lineup for its 2016 edition, which will feature three films by Latin American directors, all of them having their world premiere at the festival.

Participating in the World Fiction Competition is the Mexican-American co-production Lupe Under the Sun (pictured left) directed and written by Rodrigo Reyes. In Reyes’ follow up to his acclaimed documentary feature Purgatorio, after a lifetime working in the California fields, Lupe learns that he is about to die and desperately struggles to return home to his family in Mexico to make amends—before it is too late.

Premiering in the documentary competition is the Brazil-Nicaragua film Looking at the Stars / Olhando pras Estrelas (pictured right) by Alexandre Peralta. Set in the world’s only ballet school for the blind, located in São Paulo, Brazil, the film follows a prima ballerina and her teen protégé, who boldly take on the unique challenges of their visual impairments to develop new forms of self-expression through dance.

Having it’s world premiere in the LA Muse section, comprised of films made by talented emerging filmmakers that are set, shot or inspired by Los Angeles, is the documentary film Actors of Sound by Lalo Molina. Will Hollywood’s low-tech sound artists survive as digital technology consumes modern moviemaking? That’s the key issue in Molina’s documentary feature in which foley artists, the unsung heroes of movie sound effects, recreate the sounds—from footsteps to bone crack—at the heart of film magic.

The 2016 edition of the LA Film Festival will take place June 1-9 at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood and Culver City.


Y Tu DP También: Cuarón and Lubezki Talk Abut Their Work and Friendship

By Laura Schwab

Two of Latin American film and Hollywood’s most celebrated figures, Alfonso Cuarón and Emmanuel Lubezki a.k.a. “Chivo,” sat down to reminisce on over thirty years of friendship and cinematic collaborations at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Theater on Wednesday in collaboration with Tribeca Film Festival.

Their relationship began in their teens, they would see each other at the same cinematheque and parties, often both on a mission to flirt with girls. It wasn’t until they bonded over similar tastes in music, like Frank Zappa and the Talking Heads, that their friendship began. Lubezki began with an interest in photography and an obsession with light, while Cuarón spent all his free time reading about film. Lubezki recalled one of the many times he caught Cuarón trying to impress girls in which he was gushing over the "color in an Antonioni film,” and immediately thought, “how the hell does this guy know about the color in an Antonioni film?”

They both enrolled at Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos (CUEC) where Cuarón began as a DP and Lubezki worked as a gaffer on one of his sets. CUEC was very left-wing with an emphasis in documentary making Cuarón and Lubezki “the bourgeoisie betrayers who watched American movies.” While Lubezki saw film school as a sham, naming Cuarón as “one the most important teachers in my life," Cuarón cited Mexican film historian and critic Jorge Ayala Blanco as one of his greatest professors and influences. It was during these years that it became apparent that Lubezki’s was a wizard in manipulating light and Cuarón led with exceptional guidance on set. 

After graduating, Cuarón worked as an assistant director and Lubezki as his second assistant on the Mexican television show "Hora marcada" with their main objective “to make a shot work.” During their first feature film collaboration, Sólo con tu pareja (1991, pictured right), it then went from “making a shot work” to “making an entire scene work,” Lubezki citing that the circular tracking shot filmed from a helicopter was the first time Cuarón made him cry.

As they headed to Los Angeles Cuarón felt like an “imposter” among the Hollywood heavyweights. After collaborating on the film noir series Fallen Angels the pair went on to create A Little Princess (1995) both referencing this as one of their fondest collaborations and filmmaking experiences. A particular scene, where snow blows in through a window, which Cuarón was forced to improvise last minute after a budget cut, was the second time Lubezki was brought to tears, as the two joked about Chivo’s sensitive nature.

Feeling disappointment after Great Expectations (1998), which Cuarón called a "complete failure” and confessed "I didn't understand that film at all,” it forced him to rethink why he was a filmmaker and what he loved about film. It became a turning point in his career and in a response to the phoniness of the film Cuarón and Lubezki returned to their roots with Y Tu Mamá También (2001).

Y Tu Mamá También (pictured right) became a liberating experience for the pair— they were close to home, the stories and characters were very personal and they moved away from the big Hollywood sets filming with the camera in hand and using natural light. All the time they had spent contriving the perfect shot, scene or color scheme in Great Expectations is what ultimately hurt the film, stating that there is not one great cinematic element. Cuarón stated, “The beauty of film is the mysterious aspect where everything suddenly clicks.” While both claimed that once a film is done they don’t ever watch it again, Lubezki remembers Y Tu Mamá También as one of the few films, along with A Little Princess, that he can still watch. He says of Y Tu Mamá También, "It's the one I like the most.”

Cuarón joked that Lubezki’s known as the guy with “the most lights and the slowest guy on the planet,” while Lubezki called out the Gravity director on his many re-shoots which he fired back with, “not as much as Alejandro [González Iñárritu]!,” to which Lubezki nodded in agreement. Amidst their teasing, the audience responded in dismay as the pair were signaled that it was time to end. Nonetheless, we can’t wait for whatever cinematic endeavors they have up their sleeves next.

Cannes Classics to Feature Ripstein, Gutiérrez Alea and Eryk Rocha


Cannes Classics, the section dedicated to the heritage of cinema at the French film festival, unveiled today its lineup for its upcoming edition, which includes three Latin American titles: Cinema Novo by Eryk Rocha, Memorias del subdesarrollo / Memories of Underdevelopment by Tomás Gutierrez Alea, and Tiempo de morir / Time to Die by Arturo Ripstein.

Having its world premiere as part of the Documentaries About Cinema section, Cinema Novo (pictured left) by Eryk Rocha—son of the acclaimed and influential Brazilian filmmaker Glauber Rochar-is a political and poetic movie essay, focusing on the major films of the Cinema Novo wave in Brazil. Numerous interviews with directors Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Rocha, Leon Hirszman, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, Ruy Guerra, Walter Lima Jr. and Paulo César Saraceni.

Showing in a restored print is the Cuban classic Memories of Underdevelopment (pictured right) by Gutiérrez Alea, which is considered on the best Latin American films from all time. Set in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the 1968 film follows Sergio, an affluent writer who chooses to stay behind in Cuba while his wife and family escape to neighboring Miami. Sergio is pessimistic about the revolution's promise to bring sweeping change to his country, and he squanders his days prowling the streets of Havana looking for female companionship. Trouble erupts when his fling with chaste Elena nearly ruins him after her family accuses Sergio of rape.

Showing as a Cannes Classics special screening is a restored print of Arturo Ripstein’s debut feature Time to Die. The 1966 Mexican western, written by Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes, tells the story of a man who returns home after serving 18 years in jail for murder. Although the man killed in self defense, rumors in town circulated that he murdered the victim in cold blood. The ex-con wants to get his life together, but the two sons of the slain man are gunning for the man who killed their father.

The 69th edition of the Cannes Film Festival will take place May 11-22, 2016.