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The Portrait of an Artist Whose Name Became a Symbol of Resistance


By Roger Costa


Winner of the Best Documentary Statue at last year’s Cinema Brazil Grand Prize, the South American awards equivalent to the Oscars, director Lina Chamie’s deeply sensitive, honest and immersive exploration on the artistic world is as unique and vibrant as the artist the film portraits.

While the film captures an intense sense of honesty personified in graffiti and large murals artist Eduardo Kobra’s moving testimonies and personal stories, it also leaves an impressive mark with its techniques attributes. It is impossible to resist the superb work in the cinematography, always moving and speeding away, tenderly capturing its subject and muse, turning darkness into light and contemplating both nature, daily co-existence, landscape and art with incredible aerials; the editing geniously cuts the interviews, the drawings and paintings, goes back and forth in time, while venturing through other terrains as it leads the viewer with confidence; and the soundtrack, elegantly blending rhythms and bringing a sense of smooth, upbeat and calm tunes to the story.

Chamie conceives an intimate and familiar atmosphere reflected on the self-portrait narrated and explained in the artist’s very own words. The worldwide renowned painter and peace activist Kobra opens up about his feelings towards his art, his existence and loneliness, the inclinations and battles with depression and addiction, the turbulent relationship to his father, how he was rescued by his wife, the life-changing experience of becoming a father, his connections and disbeliefs with the world, as well as perspectives in his generation. But mostly and throughout the entire film, Kobra reveals what art represents for him, its impact on him and on people he knows, how it has always been a part of his life, and the main reason for his decisions and paths, his creative process and his compulsive artistic habits: as in most artists’ lives, the way he’d chosen to make a living, has cost him his relationship with his parents, and a serious health condition that ruled he should quit painting. It also demonstrates how strong and resilient he is, a survivor from the system, the prejudice and oppresion, both from society and the industry itself.

A fierce and dynamic activist who has been engaged in the fight against violence and poverty, Kobra humbly represents his native country, Brazil, as a spokesperson for peace in the world. His paintings reflect reality, bringing color, joy, meaning and awareness. They aren’t just drawings; they are art works loaded with powerful messages of humanitarian values and rights. He travels around the world painting murals with such passion and commitment, and every time he does, it is a reason for celebration.

A love letter to art, family, forgiveness and the simple things that make life grand, this is a brilliant and compelling work of non-fiction resistance cinema. Bravo!

(“Kobra-Self Portrait” screens on May 19th at 5 pm at Cinema Village as part of the NY Brazilian Film Series. Go to for details and tickets)

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