Hector Babenco became Brazil’s leading post-“cinema novo” director in the 1970s and an acclaimed Hollywood director in the 80s. All his films deal with social issues, and are best seen as personal and subjective accounts of “marginalized” people—the homeless, prostitutes, political prisoners, homosexuals.
Born to poor Russian and Polish Jewish immigrant parents, Babenco was 18 when he left Argentina on a “divine mission,” inspired by Beat and existential writers, to “know the world.” For seven years he traveled throughout Africa, Europe and the Americas, working at odd jobs. In Spain and Italy he pursued his interest in film, working as an extra in spaghetti westerns.
In 1971, Babenco emigrated to Brazil to make films. Having grown up watching Hollywood and European films with subtitles, he was impressed by the new, indigenous Brazilian cinema. The year he arrived, however, Brazil’s rightist military regime instituted strict censorship, forcing most “cinema novo” directors… read more