Tuesday, October 28, 2008

1st Brazilian Film Festival Of Vancouver- Wrapup...

- by Amy Parker

This past week, Vancouver was honoured to be the latest city added to the touring circuit of the Annual Brazilian Film Festival. Fellow hosts include Miami, New York and Barcelona.

Running from Wednesday October 22 to Sunday, October 26, I attended opening night and was able to review the first film, [i]Out of Tune[/i]. I also attended the closing gala and was able to catch up on all of the audience-chosen awards and the moving tribute to Walter Carvalho, noted as Brazil's best cinematographer.

According to the colourful event program given out to audiences, this festival is crucial to the success of film at home in Brazil and abroad, the 12th year that the Brazilian Film Festival has toured internationally and, to date, they have screened their movies to over 400,000 people who otherwise, might never have had the
pleasure of viewing Brazilian film.

"Out of Tune", a Portuguese feature with English subtitles is the story of a group of friends who played in a well known band, 'Os Desafinados' in the 60’s and 70’s. In 2008, when the aged members of the group learn that lead vocalist Gloria Goldfaber has died, they begin to assemble old film footage and memories of their past.

The movie flips back and forth between the current relationships of the men from the band and their past memories.

At 128 minutes, the film is perhaps about 38 minutes too long. Co-writer/Director Walter Lima Jr. ("The Oyster and the Wind") has created a passion piece that seems uninteresting. We were almost an hour into the movie before we realized scenes with the young band members were actually flashbacks. Was this meant to be dramatic suspense? I am not sure. Maybe part of the confusion was due to the unconvincing task of recreating the period 1960’s; the hair, wardrobe and sets could all be from 2008.

The most interesting aspect of the story was the affair between 'Gloria' (Claudia Abreu) and the band’s pianist, leader, 'Joaquim' (Rodrigo Santoro) tied to the political unrest in Brazil during the 60’s and 70’s. The relationship between Gloria, Joaquim and Joachim’s wife was certainly central to the film but seemed superficial at best. Political unrest was really only a small part of the third act. Instead, we get long scenes between the band members, past and present.

However "Out of Tune" did win Best Original Score at "Cine Ceara" in Brazil and Best Cinematography at the "Guadalajara Mexican Film Festival".

Commercially the story needs more of an interesting dynamic between the group of friends, but check out the great soundtrack for original Bossa Nova music...

Sunday, October 26, at the wrap for the Fest, organizers were already planning details for a big return next year. Not only was the theatre full every night but they were especially proud to have attracted so many students to the event.

The VanCity Theatre was an excellent venue with a central location, comfortable seating and a perfect space for the cocktail parties that followed both the opening and closing receptions.

The ceremonies were short and sweet in both English and Portuguese. Over the five day period, two groups of students from "Emily Carr University" and "The Vancouver Film School" filmed the event and put together their own three minute docs.

Both of their finished products were shown Sunday night. Emily Carr’s, shot in High Def, began and ended with beautiful animation and was gorgeous to look at, but the award went to two students from VFS for their content-driven entry. Congratulations to VFS.

Throughout the course of the Festival, the audience was treated to seven short films and seven feature films. At the end of each showing, ballots were handed out and viewers voted on their overall opinion of the movies they had just seen. Sunday night, the winners were announced:

Best Short went to "Maria Life", a nine minute animated film about a five year old girl who has to leave her studies to work on the family farm.

Director Marcio Ramos, was not available to accept his award but won $6,ooo in lighting equipment, for best animated short.
The “Crystal Lens Award” for best feature film went to Gustavo Acioli for his film "The Incurable Ones".

The audience was evidently pleased by this win and Mr. Acioli, wo had attended the Festival, gave a short acceptance speech thanking everyone involved. Following these awards, the final Crystal Lens statue was given to Walter Carvalho, noted as Brazil's most accomplished cinematographer.

The tribute to his life’s work was an important part of the festival. Many of the directors he has worked with. on over 60 films, were interviewed for the event and their honour of him was so touching and respectful that it brought the 61 year old filmmaker to tears. Although he made his acceptance speech in Portuguese, the Festival Director translated his poetic appreciation into English for those of us who could see his sincere love of film but could not understand his heartfelt words.

After the awards, a special screening of "Love for Sale: Suely In the Sky" was enjoyed by all those lucky enough to be present.

"Love for Sale" was released in 2006 and directed by Karim Ainouz but it is the incredible cinematography by Carvalho that makes the story so beautiful.

The film is a sad tale about a single mother who returns to her small hometown in Brazil to wait for the return of her husband. When she realizes that he is not coming, she earns money by selling raffle tickets for “a night in paradise” - a night with her. Film and literature buffs may also note that "Love For Sale' was produced by, among others, Walter Salles, who is the Director of the upcoming and very anticipated adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s "On The Road".

I am not a cinematography expert but I know a beautifully shot film when I see one and "Love For Sale" is no exception. Carvalho does not use fancy camera tricks or special effects, only perfect lighting and lovingly chosen angles that seem to capture as much real emotion as any great actor could offer. It is no wonder that Brazil is so proud of his work.

Overall, it seems that everyone was pleased with the results of the 1st Annual Brazilian Film Festival of Vancouver.

The most incredible part for participants, organizers and the audience, was how proud everyone was to see such support from young, local film students in particular.

Young people are a constant concern for every generation, in every culture, but when you look at art, and film in particular, it is inspiring to see all ages can speak and be inspired by this unifying expression.

See you next year at the "2nd Brazilian Film Festival of Vancouver"...