By Roger Costa
In Brazilian slang,”sete um”, (literally, seven one) is a term used to identify someone with the distinguished talent of convincing, persuading, tricking another to reach out a goal. Ventania, the salesman protagonist, owns money to everyone in his Rio’s Favela neighborhood, from the pastry lady vendor to the toughest thugs. He is also constantly threatened by his ex-wife as he hasn’t fulfilled the child support either. Eventually, he will be in debts with an entertainment investor who risks tons of money on his latest business ideas.
On the other side of the hill, Glanderson, a hopeless teen boy becomes known as the “new Neymar”, as he scores the most goals among his friends-players. When Ventania puts his eyes on the kid, a cash register rings the bell, and he will do the unimaginable to make the young fella a soccer star. In a rare case in Brazilian cinema, this is a crowd-pleasing incredibly funny comedy recommended for all ages, as it presents its topics related to the nation’s popular cultural habits (soccer, samba, barbecue, funk) without the trends of vulgarity or exploitation. Jeferson De’s third feature film is a fast-paced, explosively crazy and hilarious portrait of an acceptable con who turns out to be charming and affective. In a whole, Ventania is interested in relief his debts, and perhaps to be respected by his ex, but he’s also very connected to the issues and to everyone’s dreams and personal needs in the community. Born in Sao Paulo, actor Ailton Graça embodies this “7.1” character with perfection and complete balance between the debauchery of his tricks and easy talks, and the tenderness of his big heart.
Through the sarcastic plot and parallels of both men, Ventania and Glanderson, Director De subtly presents traces of two generations in clash with the new century: Ventania lost his wife, has no money and no assurance for the future (though lots of hope), while coming-of-age Glanderson is going through a premature self-esteem crisis but finds motivation, and a girlfriend, with Ventania’s help. Creating a familiar atmosphere with an immediate connection between audience and the eccentric characters, this accomplished, fresh comedy wraps up with a lively, colorful, musical dancing party at the Favela that will tease you to quickly get to the dance floor. (Screening Saturday, May 19th as part of New York African Film Festival 2018 at Film Society of Lincoln Center. Director De in attendance for Q&A at 5:45 pm.)