5 movies to connect you with Brazil’s culture

by Daniel Alexander

This blog post is part of a series called 5 picks in which we pick music artists, movies, books, and other items to help you connect with different cultures. In this post, we talk about Brazilian movies!

Brazil‘s movie industry is far from being like Hollywood, where annually we see tons of productions launching in movie theaters across the country. Although more and more Brazilian filmmakers are now independently producing content and showcasing it on YouTube channels, creating cinema in Brazil is challenging. Consider the high expenses and lack of incentive by private companies and the federal government. Spectators see less than 100 productions launching in theaters, and many of these titles have to compete with the North American blockbusters that many Brazilians prefer.

Despite these issues, Brazil’s movie industry has produced remarkable productions in the past years, some of them achieving international recognition in movie festivals and awards at events such as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, aka The Oscars.

At Amizade, we believe that watching foreign movies is a great way to stay connected with the world and keep your mind open to different cultures and languages. At the end of our virtual service-learning programs, our team often suggests movie titles to students to help them with their virtual immersion in a country.

We hand picked five movie productions that will help lovers of the Brazilian culture stay connected with the country. Amizade Brazil alumni, if you’re missing listening to Portuguese and different accents, you’re going to like these.

Emicida, AmarElo It’s all about yesterday (2020) (É Tudo AmarElo). Featuring Brazilian rapper Emicida, the movie is a powerful portrait of the African Brazilian culture through his lens. The documentary follows the rapper in a striking performance at the Municipal Theater in São Paulo as he unrolls the legacy of the Black culture in Brazil. You can watch it on Netflix.

Bacurau (Bacurau, 2019). Movie critics called Bacurau “a weird Brazilian western” given to how the story develops. But one thing is certain: it is breathtaking. The story unfolds in the fictitious town of Bacurau, in the Northeast of Brazil, where its inhabitants witness strange events that put everyone in jeopardy. The main plot is seen by many as a critique of Brazilian politics. You can rent it on Amazon Prime.

The Man Who Copied (O Homem Que Copiava, 2003). Directed by Jorge Furtado, a well-known documentary filmmaker in Brazil, this fictional story mimics his style of describing and explaining the minute details of things to spectators. It tells the story of Andre, a photocopy operator in Porto Alegre, in the South East of Brazil, as he finds a way to befriend his neighbor Silvia whom he watches every night through his binoculars. You can watch it on YouTube.

A dog’s will (O Auto da Compadecida, 2000). Recipient of many awards nationally and internationally, “Auto” follows the story of João Grilo and Chicó, two poor Northeasterners that survive in the Brazilian desert as con men. Everything changes when an outlaw crosses their path, making them face their last day’s judgment in heaven. You can watch it on YouTube.

The Second Mother (Que Horas Ela Volta?, 2015). Another recipient of awards, The Second Mother explores the world of housekeepers in Brazil. It tells the story of a hard-working woman called Val, who works and lives with an upper middle class family in São Paulo. As part of the family, Val’s story changes when her daughter has to move in with them. You can watch it on Amazon Prime.