For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.

Essential Brazilian Films

by BaalMan
It is not a easy job making a list of Brazilian Films. Many of these films aren’t available on DVD even in Brazil. You could find them on Internet, but probably you won’t find subtitles. So I am wandering if make sense pointing out films that you couldn’t see. This list is based on: Cinema Novo (New Cinema). During the 1960s and early 1970s, Brazilian filmakers were inspired by Italian Neo-Realism and the French New Wave, having the motto “Hands on a camera and an idea in the mind”. The low-budget films were themed about Brazilian reality (poverty, under-development, political issues, etc) which was a rare theme in Brazilian cinema until… Read more

It is not a easy job making a list of Brazilian Films. Many of these films aren’t available on DVD even in Brazil. You could find them on Internet, but probably you won’t find subtitles. So I am wandering if make sense pointing out films that you couldn’t see.

This list is based on:
Cinema Novo (New Cinema). During the 1960s and early 1970s, Brazilian filmakers were inspired by Italian Neo-Realism and the French New Wave, having the motto “Hands on a camera and an idea in the mind”. The low-budget films were themed about Brazilian reality (poverty, under-development, political issues, etc) which was a rare theme in Brazilian cinema until then. The greatest directors were Nelson Pereira dos Santos (his masterpiece Vidas Secas aka Barren Lives is the cornestone of the movement), Glauber Rocha (who is the most proeminent of them), Ruy Guerra, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, Leon Hirszman, Maurice Capovilla, Paulo Cesar Saraceni and Carlos Diegues’s early films.


Glauber Rocha’s Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol aka Black God, Black Evil (1964). My favourite Cinema Novo film.

Cinema Marginal (Underground Cinema): Virtually in the same years of Cinema Novo, this moviment emerged in the late 1960s and extending until late 70s. Based mainly in São Paulo (while Cinema Novo was based in Rio de Janeiro), the movement was more radical focused on experimentalism, the subversion of language of cinema (although both Cinema Novo and Marginal had similar political views). The greatest directors were Ozualdo Candeiais, Rogerio Sganzerla and Júlio Bressane along with Andrea Tonacci, Neville D’Almeida, Fernando Coni Campos, Carlos Reichenbach and others.


Ozualdo Candeias’s A Margem aka The Margin (1967). My favourite Cinema Marginal film

Retomada (“Rebirth”). Brazilian cinema almost died in the first half of 1990s with reasons that aren’t need to be mentioned now but since 1995 a generation of filmakers emerged helping to give a new life to Brazilian cinema. Retomada isn’t a film movement but just a label to this new era. The films varies from Walter Salles’s sensitive films through urban violence well known by Fernando Meirelles’s City of God (2002). Other recongnized directors are Beto Brant, Claudio Assis, Jorge Furtado, José Padilha, Karim Aïnouz and many others.


My favourite Brazilian film of the last 30 years: Luiz Fernando Carvalho’s Lavoura Arcaica aka In the Left of the Father (2001)

In other years and decades (prior 1960s and between 1975 and 95), few films I consider as really good. Expections are Mario Peixoto’s Limite (1931), a hidden masterpiece but got some “popularity” among hardcore cinephiles and Lima Barreto’s O Cangaceiro (1953), which is the first Brazilian film with some international sucess. Nelson Pereira dos Santos’s early films have to mentioned Rio 40 Graus (1955) and Rio Zona Norte (1957). Finally, the father of Brazilian Cinema Humbero Mauro, who his masterpiece is Ganga Bruta (1933).

I watched over 1000 Brazilian films, so I believe I can give a good coverage (My wish list is based on very rare films): Here a NOT definitive list:

Roberto Farias – Selva Trágica (1964)
Anselmo Duarte – Vereda da Salvação (1965)
Flávio Tambellini – O Beijo (1965)
Flavio Tambellini – Até que o Casamento nos Separe (1968)
Maurice Capovilla – O Profeta da Fome (1969)
Paulo Gil Soares – Proezas de Satanás na Vila do Leva-e-Traz (1969)
Braz Chediak – Navalha na Carne (1970)
Roberto Freire – Cléo e Daniel (1970)
Braz Chediak – Dois Perdidos Numa Noite Suja (1971)
Domingos Oliveira – A Culpa (1971)
Roberto Santos – Um Anjo Mau (1971)
Various – Vozes do Medo (1972)
Sérgio Ricardo – A Noite do Espantalho (1974)
Vladimir Carvalho – Conterrâneos Velhos de Guerra (1992)
José Eduardo Belmonte – Meu Mundo em Perigo (2007)
Júlia Murat – Histórias que Só Existem Quando Lembradas (2011)

Films below are ordered by release year:

Read less