Information about the film
CINEMA, ASPIRINS AND VULTURES (2006) by Marcelo Gomes
Film Review by Tom moore
The director of Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures, Marcelo Gomes (1963-) comes from a lower middle class family in Pernambuco. His story (based on the experiences of his uncle Ranulpho), begins in the midst of the heat and blinding sun of the Sertão, with the sun-bleached image of a Bayer Aspirin truck trundling along an unpaved, empty road gradually gaining contrast. The image never quite sheds that bleached quality, however, with sepia tones reflecting both the character of the Sertão, and the fact that the year is 1942. Johann (Peter Ketnath) is a young German who has come to sell the new wonder drug to the Brazilian back country, with a truck full of aspirin and a portable movie projector and screen. We learn that he has been in Brazil for some time, since before the war began. Physically, he fits the Aryan ideal – tall (185 cm), athletic, blue eyes, blond hair, handsome. But clearly there is a reason (or various reasons) he is not in Germany, but in Brazil, most importantly that he likes it here.
As he travels the backcountry he meets various Brazilians on the road, including one who has no idea where the road comes from or goes to. Finally he gives a ride to Ranulpho (João Miguel), who comes from a tiny town and is anxious to get out to somewhere larger and to make something of himself. A recurring theme among the Pernambucanos whom Johann meets is the size, emptiness and distance from the outside world of Pernambuco. Nothing gets out this far, not even the war. Johann’s destination is the tiny town of Triunfo, about half the distance between the Atlantic coast and Pernambuco’s western border with Piauí. Johann’s journey is inward, leading far from his German roots, and Ranulpho is heading outward. They manage to communicate, despite Johann’s accented Portuguese, and Ranulpho’s almost impenetrable Northeastern diction.
They finally arrive in Triunfo, and meet a slick operator who wants a monopoly on distributing aspirin in the entire region. As they converse over drinks with him (notably, the only Northeasterner who speaks with a Rio accent), Ranulpho addresses him respectfully as “coronel” (that is, the man who holds the power). No, he says, “I am an entrepreneur.” But this deal will fall through, as Brazil enters the war on the side of the Allies, and all Axis citizens must leave the country or go to concentration camps. And so Johann must decide where his loyalties lie (and more importantly, what his heart tells him).
The director, Marcelo Gomes, has said, in an interview with the Brazilian weekly magazine Época, that Johann and Ranulpho “represent our dream of happiness.” What was striking to this viewer was the director’s view of a peaceful Brazil in the midst of a world gone mad, and more specifically, a story of friendship in which there is no violence, no anger, no jealousy, no harsh words, but common human feeling, man helping fellow man, where the struggle is against nature, drought, sun, the barren land. The sertanejos do not grudge the travelers water or hospitality. As Manuel Bandeira, in his Invocation to the Defense of the Fatherland, set to music by Villa-Lobos to salute the Brazilian soldiers leaving for Europe in 1942, wrote “O my Brazil! You are Canaan, you are paradise for the foreign friend.” Johann is that foreign friend.
Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures is about a moment in time and a place in Brazil, in the interior, Pernambuco. It is about today. It is about a time in our lives and a place in our souls, about compassion, war, peace, what we must give up, leave behind, in order to get to our destinations. A striking and memorable film, a first film which I hope promises much to come from this young director.
TAMBORO – equal for everyone (2009) – by Sergio Bernardes
Is there a Brazilian spirit? The soul of a people? These issues seem to be explored in Tamboro, a project with a total duration of fifteen years. This film is undoubtedly one of the largest, if not the greatest film about Brazil at all times. With a succession of wonderful images, aerial shots of the cities and forests, plans and details of the nature of human making, close ups on faces showing a multitude of types, a succession of impressive levels, with an audiovisual richness rarely seen in cinema history, the film is about Brazil.
In terms of literature, the film can be compared to Os Sertões, Euclides da Cunha, work split between Land, Man and Fight, trying to find a Brazilian identity. The favelas, the folklore, the Indians, the faces of the inhabitants of the country, their beliefs and their work: The Man. Nature, Amazonia, birds, flowers and trees, rivers, mountains and seas: The Land. The struggle of the landless, forest clearing, the conflicts between rich and poor, violence, trafficking in wildlife: The Fight.
Of course the comparison is not simple, since the film embodies modernist traits of an utopia of Brazil, showing the here and now but looking to the future. The interviews and scenes with known personalities show a little of what is Brazil and it is intended as a project of nation: Leonardo Boff, Rose Marie Muraro, Aziz Ab´Saber, Ailton Krenak, Seu Jorge, all revealing different perspectives of Brazil , plus the testimony of a number of other Brazilian unknown.
The profusion of images creates a kind of free Brazilian audiovisual, showing much of what has never been seen on Brazil, or what was seen, but differently. Not an encyclopaedia, because each image is the hallmark of author, filmmaker Sergio Bernardes, who died prematurely before the end of the movie.
This monumental work has moves and fantastic camera angles, camera ghostly flying over the paths of forests and people. A pharaonic project that had Rosa Bernardes, wife of filmmaker, as a producer, and assembly of Ana Costa, Joaquim Castro, Renato Martins and Alexandre Gwazi, besides himself Sérgio Bernardes. The art direction was entrusted to Domenico Lancellotti and the soundtrack is Guilherme Vaz.
But you have to think these Brazils, this utopia of a nation, not the top down or from the outside in, as always happened throughout history. According to Rose Marie Muraro, interviewed in the film, there are two paths to be followed in life, totally incompatible with one another: the love of power and the power of love. Is it possible to find a path that includes development and social justice? Tamboro, in the language of the people Ingaricó means “to everyone without exception.”
Taunay, Francisco. “Tamboro, de Sergio Bernardes” Rio 06 outubro 2009, Home ed: Opinião e Noticia,http://opiniaoenoticia.com.br/cultura/entretenimento/tamboro-de-sergio-bernardes/
CARTOLA – music for the eyes (2006)
Review by Eduardo Correia and James White
With direction of Lirio Ferreira and Hilton Lacerda, production of Clelia Bessa, and having in the cast Nelson Sargento, Nelson Motta and Marcos Paulo Simão, the film presents the life of Cartola (Angenor de Oliveira) who was a singer, composer and poet (1909-1980) in chronological order, beginning with the earliest developments of the samba in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Cartola is a key figure in the growth of the samba – one of the famous developments of Afro-Brazilian music that developed from Portuguese influence in Brazil. The film traces Cartola’s flamboyant and difficult life from these first performances to the organization of the samba schools, his emergence as a recognized composer, and the dramatic ups and downs of his late career. The first samba school was Deixa Falar (Let Them Speak) and was organized by Cartola. Financial insecurity was a constant for Cartola, even after he was recognized. At one point, after early success he left Rio and became a mechanic, raising a family. Later, past middle age, he worked as a servant, although a celebrity.
The film uses many clips of his performances and draws from interviews with him. Cartola was a fit, thin, man whose face showed the wear and tear of his life. The early musicians playing samba often led risky lives, drinking heavily, occasionally using drugs, and playing all night. Cartola’s nose is disfigured from having started and yet not finishing plastic surgery. It often appears black in the film. He has a constant physical presence and seems to look the same age for much of his life. His singing, even when he is at an advanced age, is moving.
And when he sings, one listens to the words that come from his heart. Lush scenes from carnival in Rio also are frequently used. These beautiful scenes enforce the music which is a constant. The close-ups of some of the women dancers are particularly effective. Since clips from many films of the era are used, the viewer gets arresting period images of Rio, of run down apartment buildings and modern high rises, of well kept roads and stunning bridges and of city wide views.
Cartola had his first samba “LP” called “Cartola” only in 1974 when he was sixty-five years old. He was an inspiration to many famous singers throughout his life. Interviews with a number of these, such as Sergio Porto and Ishmael Silva are peppered throughout. Perhaps in-depth interviews with some of these individuals would have been more effective than having so many included. Their number does, however, show the strong influence Cartola had. The documentary presents a soulful and important portrait of this important Brazilian composer. Throughout it is thoughtful and indeed sometimes is almost academic. An immense amount of information about Cartola is given. Never the less, his portrait evolves, clearly and strong, and the voice of this remarkable man is preserved for all of us.
Dzi Croquettes (2009), a documentary about this Brazilian theater group that through talent, irony and humor confronted the Brazilian government and its violent dictatorship. They were banned and censored by the military regime and yet revolutionized the gay movement worldwide changing Theater and Dance language to an entire generation. Their history embraces Brazilian pop culture of the 1970’s and 1980’s, the violent years of dictatorship in Brazil, the sexual revolution, the beginning of the AIDS era and, above all, the enormous legacy that would remain unforgettable to every single person that had the opportunity to see their work. They were loved and admired by luminaries such as Mick Jagger, Jeanne Moreau, Omar Sharif, Maurice Béjart, Josephine Baker and Liza Minnelli, who became a personal friend and played a major role in bringing them to Paris and subsequently to fame.
“Lula – the son of Brazil” (2009) – The film tells the story of how a Brazilian boy escaped poverty and became the president. A film by Fabio Barreto, who unfortunately has not had a chance to see his film yet, as he has been in a coma since December last year. The night will open with special guests and Trio Agogo playing chorinho for us in the cinema.
Pachamama (2008) – a documentary from Eryk Rocha (son of Glauber Rocha) which tells the story of his journey the Brazilian rainforest on his way to Perú and Bolivia, where he encounters the reality of people historically cut-off from the political process of their own country and that, for the first time, are attempting to have a say in the outcome of their own fate. The title of the film, Pachamama, is a word that means “Mother Earth” to certain groups of Native Americans, and refers to the bucolic goddess of the rural workers. A meditative film that also reveals social movements and moments often obscured from outsiders.
Love Stories Only Last 90 Minutes (2010)– a film by Paulo Halm about Zeca and his wife Julia. Zeca is a young writer immersed in a novel he’s incapable of writing. Julia knows exactly what she wants. He is stuck with a writers block. She is stuck with him, until the day he starts to suspect that Julia is cheating on him and, much to his dismay, with another woman and their relationship gets tested to its limits.
Next film : Corisco & Dada (1996) – by Rosemberg Cariry
From the 1850s to the 1940s, groups of rural bandits called “cangaceiros” roamed through the hinterland of different states of the Brazilian Northeast, especially in the first decades of the 20th century, when the social-cultural phenomenon of “cangaço” was at its height, with important leaders such as Antônio Silvino, Sinhô Pereira, Corisco and the most emblematic of them all, Lampião, the so-called “bandit king” and “the governor of the hinterland”. Especially after the 1890’s, these independent, autonomous and nomadic groups of bandits (which would eventually include women, children and even pets) would cross state borders, fight police forces, invade villages and practice all kinds of crimes, from robberies and extorsions to torture and murders. Beheadings, for instance, would be a common practice until the end of the “cangaço” era, in the late 1930’s. Many “cangaceiros” became legendary and their stories were romanticized through the years, becoming part of the national folclore. And dozens of movies were made about them, including the one that will presented here, “Corisco e Dadá”, by director Rosemberg Cariry, so to better illustrate the saga of these men to the Australian public.
‘CARMO, HIT THE ROAD’ writer-director, Murilo Pasta (2008)
Friday, January 16th, 2009
My story was shaped by the only force affecting cinema today that really counts: the financing aspect.
I’m a Third World filmmaker with no private income, no friends in high places and no godfathers in the filmmaking world.
The three notions that have guided me in this five-year journey, from Carmo’s conception through to being selected for Sundance, are: strategy, strategy and strategy.
What choice did I have?
So before I could even consider desired visual approach, casting possibilities, prospective budgeting levels, etc., I decided that my debut feature film would be a road movie.
Cos’ you can hardly go wrong with the genre.
If you pick the right location and a handful of interesting characters you’re halfway there.
Even though I was born and grew up in Brazil I had never been to the landscape that I chose to portray in Carmo. The region, Mato Grosso do Sul, is a state the size of California, located some 1,000 miles away from the big centers, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
As I spent 18 years of my life abroad, the first draft screenplay, written in 2003 while living and working in the UK, was thus entirely written with the help of a handful of travel guides.
So, there you go: Number one, I chose the genre; Number two, I picked the location.
But I still needed a story.
I duly found one in a Brazilian newspaper article.
It was the real story of a Brazilian country girl who goes to the big city in the hope of conquering the world only to end up working as an au pair for an upper-middle-class São Paulo family.
She returns to her hometown for a weekend… It’s Saturday night and she’s at a beer house with her girlfriends telling tall tales about her amazing life in the metropolis. She gets drunk. A playboy farmer chats her up. She goes to the beer house’s car park with him. They grope and snog in his SUV. A bandito on the run turns up wielding a gun, kidnaps the pair, drops the playboy by the roadside and continues in his vehicle with her. What follows is a tropical variation of Bonnie and Clyde with a lot more humor and a lot less violence. Bingo! I had my story.
I’m oversimplifying things but it was indeed more or less like that.
I wrote a story set on the Paraguay/Brazil/Bolivia border without having ever been there, surrounded by piles of travel guides on the kitchen table of my Liverpool flat whilst directing a British soap opera set in Lancashire. Exciting stuff.
I spent the next three-and-half years being a whore in every possible sense. Cap in hand, I managed to raise some $2 million dollars. But boy, did I compromise.
To begin with I changed the male protagonist — the bandito. He was originally Brazilian. We got some cash from Argentina and he instantly became Argentinean. We suddenly lost the cash from Argentina and got some from Spain instead. He swiftly became a Spaniard.
Among numerous other things, I had to accept an actor to play one of the main supporting roles who wasn’t my choice at all. He’s pals with one of the major investors in Carmo and he’s a big Brazilian soap opera star. He was rather gently pushed down my throat. In the original script his character was menacing, brooding, sinister. The guy is not an immensely accomplished actor, so I had to completely adapt both the character and the screenplay to accommodate him. A truly dark character turned into a comic one — the only route to make the actor possibly interesting.
Also two of the three lead investors would typically cough up in short and intermittent bursts, which meant we ran out of cash several times during pre, production and post. Carmo only has a proper ending sequence thanks to my credit card. We finished the movie with me putting all the production expenses on my card during the last week of the shoot. My Spanish partners paid me back later but at the time I didn’t have a clue whether I was going to see that money ever again. And so on and so forth. But I’m not complaining. How could I? Carmo somehow works. I’ve been picked for Sundance. Life is wonderful.
Sod them all.
Previous Films screened by Samba Cine Club
Documentary by Eduardo Coutinho
Boleiros – Era uma vez o futebol (1998)
Ball Players – Once upon a time soccer
Director: Ugo Giorgetti
Director: Marcos Jorge
Director: Cao Hamburguer