By Roger Costa
IN THE HEART OF THE WORLD
Neo-realism finds a new home in writers-directors Gabriel Martins and Maurilio Martins’ astonishing dramatic puzzle connecting the lives of several residents seeking meaning, love and financial security. A love letter to Contagem, its routine, culture, tradition and unified neighbors, the directors paint a poetic, sincere and heart-rendering portrait of the minority class and their struggle, as well as sacrifices, expectations and humble joy. A hairstylist dreaming of a future, a public bus money-collector dealing with humiliation , her unemployed boyfriend involved in small crimes, and an adventurous woman engaged on a new business are among the eccentric, lovable characters inhabiting this smart, beautifully shot and seductive observation on a poor neighborhood desperate for better days. An accomplished first time collaboration, one of the best Brazilian films of the year. (Screens 12/7.)
Gabriel Mascaro’s third and most ambitious feature, presents the future of Brazil as a place where people increasingly interested in mating in order to find salvation. A controversial satire at societal and religious standards, it’s narrated by an unknown child who gives insights on the life of Joana (the great Dira Paes), a woman struggling with the conflicts at her Government office, her faith and devotion, and the attempts to impregnate. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance and named Best Film at Guadalajara International Film Festival, it’s a contemplative, inventive and scandalously erotic look on the quest for fulfillment. (Screens 12/6.)
A gripping thriller following the abduction of a famous filmmaker, forced to make a movie about his kidnapper, Award-winning directors Ary Rosa and Glenda Nicácio’s sophomore project is a stylish, modern and unpredictable crime tale. Delivering mesmerizing performances by the pair of protagonists- two men trapped on a mysterious island, haunted by their traumatic past- and creating a hypnotizing, claustrophobic atmosphere, the directors craft an enigmatic puzzle about manipulation, abuse and the human condition. (Screens 12/7.)
SEVEN YEARS IN MAY
After his masterpiece “Araby”, director Affonso Uchôa returns with this melancholic dramatized-doc, an inclusive, personal and humanitarian take on the marginalized class living on the shadows of their criminal past, and battling to maintain themselves clean. With focus on the conflicts between police and men, the brutality, the death threats, humiliation and lack of trust and opportunity, Uchôa captures moving testimonies depicting these social combats destroying families and dreams, and increasing the barriers of understanding. (Screens 12/8.)
Blending Avant-Garde, absurdist humor, political commentary and surrealism, director Tavinho Teixeira’s hallucinating road movie introduces a very dysfunctional family as representations of an anarchist society battling the system, the counterculture. In a current disturbingly apocalyptic era, they steal from corrupt pastors, and join a rebel gang of armed nuns in a secured remote area, where they plan strategies for a war, while experiencing drugs, orgies, fetishes, cleansing and connections to the unknown. Filled with sharp dialogue addressing political, social and sexual taboos, it’s a madly inventive, explicit, subversive and extravagant comedy about an out-of-control land of power, sex liberation, corruption and fanaticism. (Screens 12/10).