Breaking out of traditional, male, Rio de Janeiro/São Paulo strongholds to finally embrace regional, Black and Indigenous writer-directors, Brazil’s next generation of cinematic talent tackles a huge gamut of themes, styles and concern about social issues. Variety profiles 10 figures who look set to help shape the future of Brazilian filmmaking.
Caru Alves de Souza
Alves de Souza has such films as 2020 Berlin Generation winner “My Name Is Baghdad,” a plucky tale of adolescence on the fringes of society, and 2013’s San Sebastian Horizontes Latinos debut “Underage,” a riveting look at juvenile justice under her belt. She shreds ignorance with her belief “in the power of a cinema that questions established norms but also offers some alternative.”
At this year’s Berlin Co-Production Market, her “Lonely Hearts” deals with the fate of a family porn theater business, its characters “contradictory, flawed, idiosyncratic, and on the other hand, extremely empathetic,” she says.
She is a festival favorite who crafts energetic narratives that traipse outside societal bounds.
In Camelo’s “The Beads,” a 2023 Berlinale Short co-directed by Emanuel Lavar, we join two sisters in a seemingly isolated country house. They collect water. They talk infrequently. The sisters are together because one needs support through an abortion.
Camelo’s debut short, “Mystery of the Flesh,” was selected for 2019’s Sundance, and her first feature, “Blood of My Blood,” will shoot late 2023. “My specificity as a filmmaker is in the architecture of stories,” she says. “Interestingly, they are all films centered on two women’s relationship. I like films that are very symbolic, visually suggestive, while creating strong connections with the characters.”
Of Indigenous origins, Dias used 2021’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul Lab to create “Wind Road,” a doc exploring the meaning of home. It weaves footage of birds being caught and banded for research in the Amazon rainforest with meditations from the people living there on the subject of home. Dias tells Variety, “I taught my nephew that I carry, inside me, the river where I was born … no matter where I go, it comes along with me, my memories and my ancestors’ memories.”
This year, she screens “The Intrusion” in the Berlinale Forum. The film is backed by Hubert Bals and Visions Sudest. Using Guarulhos Intl. Airport as its base, it tracks not the tourists but the workers.
An example of Brazil’s burgeoning regional talent, Marcheti is a native of Mato Grosso, in the country’s Amazon region, and it serves as inspiration for his whole work. His first feature, “Madalena,” played in International Film Festival Rotterdam’s 2021 main competition. The film explores the death of Madalena, a trans woman found murdered in a soybean field, its impact on three characters and how dehumanization leads to violence.
Selected at CineMart 2022, his feature “Mother of Gold” weighs in as a mother-son relation tale inspired by Marcheti’s coming out. “Both ‘Madalena’ and ‘Mother of Gold’ express my desire to reflect on our relationship with nature, and to raise questions around this hierarchization between humans and non-humans,” Marcheti says.
From exploring weighty, oft-over-looked narratives in 2018 Cannes Queer Palm-winning short “Orphan,” about an effeminate young Black adoptee, to offering engaging portrayals of the human condition inverting traditional roles in her 2022 Toronto Platform debut feature, “Charcoal,” a dark satire, Markowicz admits to being “very passionate about people’s complexities.” “There’s nothing unbelievable anymore, reality’s so crazy,” she says. “I like the idea of merging truth with fiction, losing myself in this labyrinth of nonsense we’re living in nowadays.”
Unraveling a moral quandary between a mother and her gay son, her upcoming pic “Toll” promises to be “more deliberately satirical” than prior works.
Depicting the daily travails of a lower-middle class Black family in Contagem, in Brazil’s state of Minas Gerais, Martins’ first solo feature, “Mars One,” scored a 2022 Sundance World Dramatic Competition berth and was Brazil’s Oscar entry. “Mars One” wells to a wondrous finale, building the vision of a society cleft by a generational gulf whose old certainties are fading. It also confirmed Martins and shingle Belo Horizone-based Filmes de Plastico as ones to watch.
At Filmes de Plastico, Martins partners with writer-directors André Novais Oliveira and his brother Maurílio Martins as well as producer Mauricio Macêdo Correia, the team behind four Cannes titles, and the standard-bearers of a Black Brazilian cinema made outside the country’s two biggest cities.
A coffin sits in the center of a small room; there is an exposed electrical wire, a fridge in the corner and a candle burns at a viewing for a loved one. Documentary short “A gente acaba aqui” affirms the presence of death as a destination among the living, Moraes turning the camera to the friends and family who gather to mark her uncle’s death. A 2021 Sundance Institute Documentary Fund recipient, Moraes’ work to date mixes the experimental with documentary, be it water scarcity in “Patakki,” or the female experience across three generations in “Aurora.”
“I understand cinema as a powerful artistic and political tool, which helps us to reflect and propose deeper perspectives on the relationship we establish with everything that exists on earth, or beyond it.”, she says.
Fictional feature debut “O Secredo De Sikan” is scheduled for 2025. Moraes is currently co-directing anthology series “Histórias Impossíveis” for Globo.
In “Sunday Morning,” a 2022 Berlin Silver Bear laureate, Gabriella, a young Black pianist played by real-life musician Raquel Paixao, is preparing for her first major recital. Troubled by dreams of her dead mother, she revisits the countryside family home, and finds some kind of peace.
Ribeiro, as in the more jocular “Gargau,” a 2021 DocLisboa winner, melds fiction and reality in telling portraits of Brazil’s first rural generation that moved in mass to study at big city universities. Next up, he says, are two feature projects, one “inspired by his childhood in Portugal, and a comedy made with friends and family.”
Laís Santos Araújo
Earning recognition from the get-go with first feature script, “Marina,” selected by Int.l Film Festival Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund, and debut short, “Sometimes We’re the Same Height,” playing at Rotterdam in 2019, Santos Araújo sees her latest short, “Infantry,” competing in Berlin’s Generation 14Plus sidebar. It centers on a young girl whose urgent desire to grow up quickly has serious consequences.
“There are social issues underneath the narrative that obstruct the young characters’ wishes — and I believe life is somewhat like this. In many ways my next works, such as ‘Marina,’ will continue dealing with the tenderness and violence of this phase of life,” she says. “Marina” starts production in 2023.
His short film “Sideral” competed at Cannes and was long-listed for the Oscars. Now Segundo’s second feature, absurdist drama “Milk Powder,” is creating buzz as part of Berlin Talents’ Script Station Lab. A photographer, screenwriter and editor, Segundo has produced more than 15 films, fiction and non-fiction, that have participated in more than 350 local and international festivals.
“I’ve always had a great interest in observing humans, in understanding their movements, gestures, intentions and desires. I really believe in collective revolutions, in social movements and their objective impact on the world, but within cinema, I am much more interested in subjective transformations and small, simple revolts,” he says.