May 24, 2024

A Batalha da Rua Maria Antonia,” directed by Vera Egito, nabbed the main Redentor prize for fiction film at the 2023 Rio de Janeiro International Film Fest which wrapped this year’s edition last weekend, consolidating its position as South America’s largest fest and world’s main showcase of Brazilian productions.

The fest held the world premieres of 40 Brazilian features and four TV series. Its competition, reflecting the country’s production strength, included 54 local features, selected from 318 submissions.

With a series of 21 long takes shot in 16 mm black and white film, “A Batalha da Rua Maria Antonia” (“The Battle”) depicts the true-life 1968 police massacre of Sao Paulo State University Philosophy School’s students who rose up in opposition to the military dictatorship then in place in Brazil.

Carolina Markowicz’s “Toll” scooped both best actress, for Maeve Jinkings, shared with Grace Passo of “O Dia que te conheci,” and actor (Kaua Alvarenga). Andre Novais Oliveira’s “O Dia que te conheci” also received the special jury prize.

Lillah Halla won best director for “Levante”, while Evgenia Alexandrova received the cinematography kudo for “Sem Coracao” and Guto Parente the screenplay award for “A Strange Path,” a Tribeca 2023 international narrative feature winner.

“Othelo, o Grande,” from Lucas Rossi dos Santos, about Grande Othelo, considered the country’s most important African-Brazilian comedian, nabbed the doc kudo.

One of the fest’s highlights was the significant number of features about the Amazon Rainforest and Brazilian Indigenous people.

Doc feature “We Are Guardians,” co-helmed by Edivan Guajajara, from the Arariboia native people, and Chelsea Greene and Rob Grobman, both from the U.S., made its Brazilian premiere at Rio Fest. The doc, which has Leonardo DiCaprio as executive producer, is enjoying a strong fest career and is due to open on a streaming service early next year.

“We Are Guardians” focuses on the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest and the effort of local people to save it, including a guardian group formed by Arariboia natives, curbing the activities of loggers in their reservation.

Edivan Guajajara’s initially role in the production was as a translator and fixer. Greene and Grobman were so impressed with his work and, with the pandemic, he was promoted to co-director.

“My job was not an easy one. We followed the guardian group as they chased illegal loggers in the middle of the forest,” Edivan Guajajara told Variety.

Jean-Pierre Dutilleux’s doc “Raoni – Uma Amizade Improvável” tells the story of the 50-year-old friendship of the Belgian director and the chief of the Kaiapo Native people. Dutilleux has since the 1970s made docs about Raoni and toured around the world with him. His work helped Raoni in his successful campaign to expand the area of a reservation in the southern part of the Amazon Rainforest.

Vet helmer Neville D’Almeida’s doc “Bye Bye Amazônia” also had its world premiere at Rio Fest. The doc warns of the rapid destruction of the forest and calls for action.

“Our film adopts the Indigenous people’s point of view. It is a manifest against the deforestation of the Amazon. As a film maker, it is my duty to alert the world about what is going on here,” D’Almeida told Variety. The 82-year-old director helmed “Lady on the Bus,” released in 1978, which is among the Brazilian features with the highest B.O.

Estevao Ciavatta premiered in the fest doc “Linguas da Nossa Lingua” about the languages spoken in Brazil. The doc sheds light to the diversity of the indigenous people languages that survived the Portuguese colonization.

“Brazil has a unique situation. In spite of the fact that about 98% of its population speak Portuguese, Brazil has a huge linguistic diversity. There are more than 170 languages spoken here, most of them of indigenous people,” Ciavatta told Variety.

Edoardo Morabito’s doc “Posto Avancado,” a Brazil-Italy co-production, depicts the journey of Christopher Clark, a Scottish environmentalist who struggled for the creation a natural reservation in the states of Acre and Rondonia, in the Amazon Rainforest.

“I decided to make this documentary, because the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest is a concern for all citizens of the world,” Morabito told Variety.

The fest’s program also included Joel Pizzini’s “Rio da Duvida,” about the U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt’s expedition to the Amazon, and “The Buriti Flower,” helmed by Joao Salaviza and Renee Nader Messora, about the Krahô native people, which made a splash at Cannes.

The Buriti Flower
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

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