Monday 28 March 2022


Like many arts events, the Brazilian Film Festival of Paris found itself scrambling to survive when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020. Organizers first moved the programming online because of lockdowns, and then changed the date to summer in 2021. Now, the festival is back with live screenings of films that will take place in the French capital March 29 to April 5.

This 24th edition is putting the spotlight on music and on pioneering musicians, presenting Brazil’s greatest cultural export through different lenses, according to the festival’s founder and director Katia Adler. A resident of Rio de Janeiro who studied film in France and worked in television, Adler began distributing Brazilian films in 1998 “as a way to show a different picture and to help filmmakers at a time when culture was being pushed to the side-lines,” she said.

“When I was working in television in the late Eighties and there was something about Brazil, it was always negative, focusing on street children, drugs or poverty,” she told SWAN in 2013 - a year that Brazil was the “guest of honour” throughout France, with a range of cultural events.

While the festival has faced difficulties since then, Adler says it has become an important event in Europe, and she and her co-organizers are determined to see it continue. The following edited interview with Adler took place in Paris via telephone in March 2022.

SWAN: The pandemic affected the festival in 2020. How did you cope?

Katia Adler: We had to cancel the in-person screenings and go on-line. We had a selection of about 60 films and quite a number of virtual debates as well. Then in 2021, we moved to July, for four days, with precautions. But people were still afraid to go to the cinema, so our audience was smaller. Now we’re back to our format before the pandemic, and I hope people will come out to see the films and that things will be more or less back to normal. We hope we’ve left the pandemic behind us.

SWAN: What’s happening at this year’s event?

KA: We have a line-up of 29 films, and we’re really happy to be back with screenings in the cinema because that’s important for viewers. We have 10 to 12 special guests coming from Brazil - I think that’s significant too. And the festival can be seen as a fighter because we’re still resisting negative trends even though we don’t have a sponsor this year.

SWAN: Among the notable films that will be screened, there is a documentary on renowned musician Gilberto Gil, titled Gilberto Gil - Antologia Vol.1 and directed by Lula Buarque de Hollanda. Can you tell you tell us more this?

KA: Yes, the closing film of the festival is about Gilberto Gil, and it includes archival footage that’s unknown to most people. The images come from his personal archive, and it’s a very interesting film about him, about his life and music.

SWAN: Along with this year’s theme of music, you’re also focusing on a work that had a great impact on Brazilian filmmaking.

KA: We’ve chosen a film by Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Rio 40 Graus, which somehow changed the way that directors subsequently made movies because it was filmed in a favela in Brazil, with Black actors, and that was significant. After this film, Brazilian cinema changed a bit, but we’re still far from having representative Black directors in Brazil. There’s still much to be done to portray and represent Black Brazilians, who make up 50 percent of the population.

Our opening film this year, Pixinguinha (directed by Denise Saraceni), is about a great Brazilian musician and I think that it’s important for the festival to show this film, and to have discussions and debates.

SWAN: Overall, what’s the main importance of a festival such as yours, especially with the sizable Brazilian community in France?

KA: In addition to the Brazilian community, about 70 percent of our audience consists of French film fans who are interested in Brazilian culture, and the festival serves on one hand to promote Brazilian cinema, but it also serves to highlight French distributors of Brazilian films. France is the leading country for co-production of films with Brazil. But Brazilian cinema is on average still not widely known. It’s not like Brazilian music, which most people know, and which is played just about everywhere. I think it’s fundamental to have a festival that has existed for 24 years and which is a platform for Europe, because other countries ask for the films after seeing them at the festival.

Photos (top to bottom): the poster for the Brazilian Film Festival of Paris; Katia Adler; and a shot from the film Pixinguinha. Images are provided courtesy of the festival. 

The festival is also making about 8 films - features and documentaries - available online from March 29 to April 30, 2022.

For more information: Festival du cinéma brésilien de Paris 24 - Festival - Jangada

Monday 14 March 2022


With his latest album Kintal da Banda, the acclaimed Angolan musician Bonga has reminded us how valuable art can be in times of darkness.

From the first track, which gives the album its name, listeners will feel their spirits lifting as Bonga’s passionate, raspy voice and irresistible melodies take us to a sphere of light.

The collection of songs celebrates his memories of growing up in Kiripi, Angola, and receiving an education in the courtyard of his family’s home. The album’s title translates as “the Courtyard of the Place” or, perhaps more loosely, “Yard Band”, and it recalls the area where Bonga “forged his social and political conscience” and his “aptitude for tenderness and revolt”, as French author Anne-Laure Lemancel puts it, in notes about the release.

The themes range from family get-togethers and shared meals to the need for resistance against the “dark forces” of the planet, no matter who they are – although Bonga asserts that he doesn’t wish to get angry anymore because it’s detrimental to his health. The stories in the songs come alive through the melodies of semba, the traditional Angolan music genre that Bonga is credited with popularizing on the international scene.

One of the album’s highlights is Kúdia Kuetu, a duet with French singer Carmélia Jordana that speaks of Angola’s famed cuisine, and which somehow evokes the sweet sadness of songs by the late Cabo Verdean star Cesária Évora. (Both Bonga and Évora were born in the early 1940s.)

Other tracks, such as Kolenu and Sem Kijila, recall Bonga’s long career of activism and revolt, and even as we dance to the rhythm, the message is clear: keep resisting the darkness and the warmongers.

Listen to Kúdia Kuetu here: