5 Brazilian movies to fall in love with our cinema

(and all of them on streaming)

5 min readAug 31, 2023
Neighboring Sounds (IMDB)

Brazilians don’t watch Brazilian movies. And it’s not even an exaggeration to say that. Statistics prove that the main films of Brazilian art cinema are only consumed in international markets (some of them are not even released in theater over here). The great global film festivals and gatherings across the globe. A regular Joe hardly hears about a Brazilian film awarded at Cannes, for example, which with any luck may end up being shown outside the Rio-São Paulo axis.

That’s why I selected 5 auteur films, made in Brazil by Brazilians and that were very well received in the international market.

5. Just Like Our Parents (Como Nossos Pais)

Directed by Laís Bodanzky (2017)

Não quero lhe falar, meu grande amor, das coisas que aprendi nos discos.” Elis Regina’s classic serves as inspiration and backdrop for academy member Lais Bodanzky’s feature. The film, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and won the Brazilian Film Festival in Paris, is an acclaimed family drama, involving an adult daughter who only gets along with her father, an adult son who gets along with his mother, an elderly and adulterous father who shows no real traces of responsibility, and a mother, who close to her death, holds a secret capable of transforming the lives of the whole family. The film holds its own, with some outstanding performances and a good dose of sentimentality — the scene in which we hear Elis’s song was made to bring you to tears. The relationship between mother and daughter is the only one that really develops throughout the story, and as good as that decision was, the other characters and plots feel like ghosts in some moments, existing just to advance the main plot. But even so, Maria Ribeiro’s charisma and the force of nature that Clarisse Abujamra manages to become, make this hundred minute film an amazing way to spend a saturday afternoon.

4. Long Way Home (Temporada)

Directed by André Novais Oliveira (2018)

An indie film, from Minas Gerais, made in my land. Juliana (the wonderful Grace Passô) moves from the countryside to Contagem with a new job in the team to combat endemic diseases (the dengue lady). She will then meet people and experience situations that will transform the course of her life. The direction and script are by André Novais Oliveira (from the great Ela volta na Quinta) and the production by Filmes de Plástico. The film was selected to represent Brazil at the Locarno Festival in 2018 and is one of the most incredible stories I have ever seen. Far from the make-up of the outskirts already saturated by soap opera productions and so on, the film is as real as we are and the characters are just people like us. If I were you, I’d watch it today.

3. Paradise Lost (Paraíso Perdido)

Directed by Adirley Queirós (2014)

Directed by the brilliant mind behind “Ó, Pai Ó”, Monique Gardenber presents “Paradise Lost”, telling the story of a nightclub run by none other than Erasmo Carlos and his troop of heirs, which includes other big names, such as Seu Jorge, Júlio Andrade, Malu Galli, Humberto Carrão, Lee Taylor and Marjorie Estiano (in one of their best performances) and an impeccable score by Zeca Baleiro, among many other amazing facts about this one. Some excellent musical numbers from people who really know how to capture it (Monique is a concert director of such a high-quality), and a necessary dose of acidic sociocultural criticism, the colorful, plural and full of life feature is a spectacle in itself. In this environment of paradisiacal acceptance and harmony, we have one of the most cohesive portraits of what life is in fact, even if willingly brushed by a distortion of that same reality. It’s a dream world. It’s a world full of dreams.

2. White Out, Black In (Branco Sai, Preto Fica)

Directed by Adirley Queirós (2014)

This 2014 docu-drama will be the best experience of your day when you watch it. In the opening scene, we see Marquim da Tropa in a kind of basement of a house in a dystopian-future Brasília (perhaps not so much), recording a kind of radio program and narrating the events that form the backdrop for the film, with a brilliant and breathtaking performance. , which punctuates the feature in its almost one hundred minutes. The realism of the film works really well with massive doses of science fiction and social criticism of the structural racism that affects minorities (majorities) and disadvantaged classes in our country. And all this to tell like no one else a real story of police racism and how people’s lives are harmed and affected by it. The film is a little slow towards the middle, but the pace is compensated by the bright, innovative and hopeful ending.

1. Neighboring Sounds (O Som ao Redor)

Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho (2012)

What to say about Kleber Mendonça Filho that hasn’t been said yet? I am a die-hard fan of what I think is the best director in current Brazilian cinema. This is his first fiction feature, “Neighboring Sounds” — and yes, sound is something important to this story. A street in Recife, a neighborhood that is beyond controversial, a wave of violence that leads to the hiring of private security guards for the neighborhood, and an impeccable portrait of the Brazilian middle class, with characters that run away from the ordinary and resemble reality in a concrete way, mostly filmed in the director’s childhood home. The film follows the daily life of different homes and families, interpersonal and work relationships, and through subtle dynamics, deals with prejudices and stereotypes, and creates situations that will be developed dynamically throughout a thoughtful character study. It’s not an easy watch, not a story about ultra-elaborate crimes or individualistic relationships, but about everything that is around.




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