Sunday 24 March 2024


Spring is the season of film festivals in France, and one of the highlights is the always-stimulating Brazilian Film Festival of Paris, with its special guests, music features and topical issues.

Now in its 26th incarnation, the festival runs March 26 to April 2 this year and will screen more than 30 films at the Arlequin cinema in the famed Montparnasse neighbourhood. It is paying homage as well to the Brazilian actor and director Antônio Pitanga, acclaimed for a host of films from the 1960s to the present.

Spectators can enjoy some of the movies in which he has appeared and one of the films he has directed - Na Boca do Mundo (In the Mouth of the World) - as well as a documentary on his life and work, helmed by Beto Brant and Pitanga’s daughter Camila, a well-known actress in Brazil. 

“The most important element this year is our tribute to Pitanga,” says Katia Adler, founder and director of the film festival. “He has participated in more than 80 films, from Cinema Novo to now, and is an icon of Brazilian filmmaking.”

As honoured guest, Pitanga will be present on opening night for the showing of Nas Ondas de Dorival Caymmi (In the Waves of Dorival Caymmi), a documentary directed by Locca Faria about the famous composer, singer and musician, who blended elements of Bahian culture, samba and bossa nova.

Caymmi, who died in 2008 aged 94, composed some 100 songs over the 70 years he was musically active and is considered among the creators of the bossa nova movement.

Through the recollections of fellow artists, journalists, family members and friends, the documentary portrays his origins in Salvador, Bahia, the sources of his inspiration in the region, and his collaborations with other musicians and singers such as João Gilberto, Carmen Miranda and Chico Buarque. Caymmi also co-wrote songs with Brazilian author Jorge Amado, with whom he maintained a long friendship.

Other festival offerings on music include the gripping biopic Meu nome é Gal (My Name is Gal Costa) in which actress Sophie Charlotte plays the role of the “Tropicália singer, who died in 2022. Known for the hits "Coração Vagabundo”, “Festa Do Interior”, “Desafinado”, “Baby” and others, Costa's career was forged in turbulent times, and she's still recognized as one of the most influential voices in Brazilian music to this day, says Adler.

A filmmaker herself, 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 has told SWAN. She launched the festival that same year, and films about music have been a mainstay since, with the spotlight in 2022 focused on pioneering musicians, for instance. (This came after difficulties in mounting the festival during the Covid-19 pandemic. See:

Along with the melodies, the wide-ranging programme has always included thought-provoking features and documentaries. This year, another standout in the lineup is Crowrã (The Buriti Flower), by João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora, a film that follows the indigenous Krahô people in the Brazilian forest during different time periods of their history.

Previously screened at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival in the “Un Certain Regard” category, the documentary is told from the perspective of its subjects, including Ilda Patpro Krahô, one of the screenwriters and an activist for her community. Reviewers have given the documentary high marks, with British film magazine Screen International writing that it “immerses us in the lives of a people constantly facing threats to their existence”.

For Cannes, reviewer Charlotte Pavard similarly wrote: “The Buriti Flower offers a reflection on resistance, the relationship between the Krahô and the earth, and the violence suffered over recent centuries to the detriment of their ancestral rites and practices.”

In addition to the issues faced by indigenous peoples, the festival is screening films that address gender topics and a range of other subjects, including democracy. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the 1964 Brazilian coup d'état which launched a two-decades-long military dictatorship, and several films focus on this period and its legacy.  

Spectators will get to discuss some of these themes with the filmmakers present (Pitanga and others) and will equally have the chance to attend concerts by Brazilian artists – an integral component of the festival over the years.

Being emotionally moved is “guaranteed”, Adler promises.

Photos / posters of the films provided courtesy of the Brazilian Film Festival of Paris.

More info: Festival du cinéma brésilien de Paris 26 - Festival - Jangada