Directed by Debora Reis Totton (Brazil, 2015)
Winner – Best Feature 2016
Watch the trailer now:
The honest reason I am in the film industry is the people. You will not meet a more creative, fun and giving group. One of the things I loved about living in LA was the networking social circles. When you needed help, if someone couldn’t help you; they always knew someone who could. When we decided on Brazil being our country of focus this year I went to my mentor and friend, Derek Horne, who put me in touch with Debora Reis Totton. He said he saw her film and it was great. I saw it too…and he was right (as he usually is). But the bonus of all of this was meeting Debora in person. When I told her I was going to Rio for Carnival to celebrate my 40th, she went out of her way to welcome not just me, but my sister, my sister in law and my best friend into her home. She took us on a tour of a favela and gave us insight into the real Brazil. I saw first hand the life-force of samba and could see after meeting Debora that the passion in her soul translated to her story on screen. That is the magic of cinema. I felt welcome, like I belonged.
And Brasil Meu Amor is just about that, belonging somewhere. Do you have to live in the country of your genealogical ethnicity to have a sense of community? Or is community formed by a shared set of values and vision for the future?
In an ever growing global society where the migration of people and cultures are continually in flux…. there is a growing diaspora yearning for their homeland.
A young Brazilian samba dancer who was not born in Brazil feels she must “return” to make a difference in the radical demonstrations occurring in her homeland. Her lover who left all of that behind him willingly, urges her to welcome her new home in LA. He reminds her how much effort and strife went into her people leaving to come to America to seek a better life for themselves…and she wants to go back? This idea of reverse migration is starting to crop up in films, as we have two at our festival this year. The dinner party’s conversations are shot documentary style with honest and lively debate on this issue. Do you embrace your new home, or desire to look back to your roots?
I learned that samba is an expression of the poorer neighborhoods that has now been appropriated for elite tourism in Rio. Samba tells the stories of the favelas. And they do not seek that you feel pity for them or look down at their “poverty”…but rather to embrace and celebrate life at every moment.
One could argue that Brasil Meu Amor is “Third Cinema” made for Brazilians by a Brazilian, but I absolutely related to both the Samba girl with her grass is greener complex and also with the boyfriend who was fiercely allegiant to Los Angeles. How do we shape identity and community when everything is at such a fast pace and everyone is always relocating?
I am pleased this is our opening night film and to celebrate Brazil, a country with a heartbeat.
Director of Programming- Alexandra Nakelski