São Paolo is on of the world’s great megalopolises, but like many Latin American cities its rapid expansion often outpaced the need for a coherent urban plan. Director Gregorio Graziosi’s debut feature Obra takes a stark, black and white look at his native city’s famous concrete apartment towers. He depicts a cold, austere, and impersonal urban environment in which João — an up-and-coming architect and scion of an old-money Poalista family — prepares for the construction of his first building.
Intrigue ensues when João discovers a clandestine cemetery on a plot of land belonging to his family and begins to question the origins of his inherited wealth. With a building in the works and a baby on the way, João’s tormented conscious leads him through the streets of São Paolo in a quest for answers that begins to take a physical and psychological toll.
It is a story packed with metaphorical weight and unmistakable parallels between an architect’s first building and this young director’s first film. While the trailer is remarkably terse what can be appreciated is Graziosi’s well defined style, impressive camera work, and of course Tropa de Elite’s Irandhir Santos giving his all as João Carlos Ribeiro de Almeido Neto.
Obra premiered earlier this fall at the Toronto International Film Festival and recently won the FIPRESCI award for Best Latin American Film at the Rio Film Festival.