"The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao"

Over the past few years, Brazilian movies have made a splash at the Cannes Film Festival, one of the most prestigious in the world. Many observers will recall the cast and crew of nominated drama Aquarius using the red carpet to protest the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff—denouncing to the international media what they believed was a coup in progress in Brazil. But political displays are far from the only reason why movie critics are looking more closely to the country—as this year has shown.

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Brazilian picture </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmão</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> snatched the top prize at the </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Un Certain Regard</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> exhibition—a section of the festival&#8217;s official selection, parallel to the competition for the Palme d&#8217;Or. Karim Aïnouz&#8217;s drama was considered of &#8220;high emotion, articulated with utmost sincerity and heady stylistic excess,&#8221; according to </span><a href="https://variety.com/2019/film/reviews/cannes-film-review-the-invisible-life-of-euridice-gusmao-1203225913/"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Variety</span></i></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. The movie tells a heartbreaking tale of two sisters separated for decades by familial shame and deceit.</span></p> <p><span class="embed-youtube" style="text-align:center; display: block;"><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='1200' height='675' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/8fBBGRT9ga0?version=3&#038;rel=1&#038;fs=1&#038;autohide=2&#038;showsearch=0&#038;showinfo=1&#038;iv_load_policy=1&#038;wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'></iframe></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The award comes 17 years after Mr. Aïnouz&#8217;s stunning debut </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Madame Satã</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">—also as part of the </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Un Certain Regard</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> exhibition. The movie was responsible for not only launching the director&#8217;s international career, but also saw the breakout of actor Lázaro Ramos—currently one of Brazil&#8217;s most acclaimed performers—and made Brazil rediscover one of Rio de Janeiro&#8217;s most iconic characters. Madame Satã was a dark and emblematic figure of the city&#8217;s bohemian life—commemorated as someone who battled the stigmas of being the son of slaves, illiterate, and homosexual.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmão</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> was not the only award-winning Brazilian competitor of this year&#8217;s edition of the Cannes Film Festival. </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bacurau</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles, was presented with the Jury Prize—sharing it with Ladj Di&#8217;s </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Les Misérables</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Much like Mr. Mendonça&#8217;s critically acclaimed </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Neighboring Sounds</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Aquarius</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bacurau</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> tells the story of a Brazilian community struggling to defend itself from the destructive force of modernity.</span></p> <p><span class="embed-youtube" style="text-align:center; display: block;"><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='1200' height='675' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/Hr49Ayyb3zs?version=3&#038;rel=1&#038;fs=1&#038;autohide=2&#038;showsearch=0&#038;showinfo=1&#038;iv_load_policy=1&#038;wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'></iframe></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The win makes Mr. Mendonça the biggest name in Brazilian cinema worldwide at the moment and also represents a rare win for Brazilian cinema in official Cannes awards. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brazil was also present in the Cannes Film Festival as co-producers of </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Traitor</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, by Italian director Marco Bellocchio (nominated for the Palme d&#8217;Or), and American films </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Port Authority</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, by Danielle Lessovitz, and</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Robert Eggers&#8217; </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Lighthouse</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <h2>International acclaim</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This year&#8217;s victorious trip to Cannes continues a positive streak for Brazilian cinema. Both in 2018 and 2019, no less than 12 Brazilian productions were selected for the Berlin film festival—this time around, there were 11 feature films and one short.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2018, Brazil was at the center of the </span><a href="https://brazilian.report/society/2018/06/11/brazilian-animation-cinema-annecy-2018/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Annecy Animated Film Festival</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, being named the event&#8217;s nation of honor. At the time, the festival&#8217;s director, Marcel Jean, justified the choice. &#8220;We want to show how this major territory is a powerful spring of creativity, to show how Brazilian animators have drunk deep from these waters to establish an unusual and striking expression.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Also last year, the country took—for the first time ever—two homegrown films to the renowned Sundance Festival—arguably the most prestigious independent cinema award in the world. </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Loveling</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rust</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> were chosen to contest the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, alongside titles from China, Denmark, Turkey, and the UK.</span></p> <h2>No Oscars yet</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brazilian movies, however, have been overlooked by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It doesn’t happen every year, but whenever a Brazilian film manages to snag an Oscar nomination, everyone gets high hopes for a win. There is collective anxiety in the weeks before the ceremony, with millions of people staying up late to watch the opening of the envelopes—a pursuit which, invariably, ends in disappointment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most of the nominations have been for the category of Best Foreign Language Film. Some didn’t stand the slightest chance, such as </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Four Days in September</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, a 1997 thriller about the real-life kidnapping of a U.S. ambassador to Brazil back in 1969. While the movie itself was not to blame, its plot wasn’t exactly Oscar bait.</span></p> <p><span class="embed-youtube" style="text-align:center; display: block;"><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='1200' height='675' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/4FRtkEbQ-8U?version=3&#038;rel=1&#038;fs=1&#038;autohide=2&#038;showsearch=0&#038;showinfo=1&#038;iv_load_policy=1&#038;wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'></iframe></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are two times in recent memory, however, where Brazil&#8217;s losses at the Oscars really stung. At the 1999 Academy Awards, the drama </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Central Station </span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">received two nominations: Best Foreign Language Movie and Best Actress, for national diva Fernanda Montenegro. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The first blow came when Sophia Loren, announcing the foreign-language winner, simply shouted “Roberto!”—an indication that the winner was Roberto Benigni’s Holocaust comedy-drama Life is Beautiful, an Italian flick that was far from being a masterpiece. Back in 1998, CNN’s reviewer Paul Tatara </span><a href="http://edition.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/Movies/9811/10/review.lifeisbeautiful/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">said</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">: “The fact that [Benigni] plays every scene as if he’s a very loud mime is bad enough, but there’s a patent phoniness to the proceedings that subverts the entire point of the movie.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To add insult to injury, Fernanda Montenegro lost the Best Actress Oscar to Gwyneth Paltrow—considered to be one of the </span><a href="https://www.insider.com/oscars-winners-wrong-undeserved-2018-3"><span style="font-weight: 400;">least-deserving wins</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of all time.</span></p> <h2>Uncertainties loom ahead</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the Cinema do Brasil Association, the recent stride of success is due to a successful model of financing—which combines incentives for private investors with public money into the mix. A fund for audiovisual productions, established at the beginning of the century, gave stability to the Brazilian cinema industry and allowed local directors&#8217; creativity to blossom.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, the Brazilian National Cinema Agency is going through a </span><a href="https://brazilian.report/society/2018/12/22/uncertain-future-brazilian-cinema/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">moment of uncertainty</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Late in March, the Federal Accounting Court (an audit tribunal that monitors public spending), found a series of problems with the agency&#8217;s books. In April, sitting director Christian de Castro determined the suspension of all financing for films and series—interrupting movies midway through their production.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On May 27, the agency announced it would resume its activities.

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SocietyMay 27, 2019

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BY Laura Quirin

Laura is one of The Brazilian Report's founders. She started her career in China and moved to Brazil in 2015.