From Lesbian Rockstars to Oscar Contenders: 5 Must-See Movies at Brazilian Film Festival of Miami

Lead Photo: 'Casa Grande.' Courtesy of the filmmakers.
'Casa Grande.' Courtesy of the filmmakers.
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The movies at the 19th edition of the Brazilian Film Festival of Miami (BRAFF) have got it all: a fleeting love story in a mental hospital (Good Luck), a conversation with master documentarian Eduardo Coutinho (Last Conversations), a badass lesbian rockstar (Cassie Eller), a seductive prank caller (Gorilla), plus a little bit of sports, music, war, and of course, Carnaval! This variety shouldn’t be surprising, since Brazil remains as a powerhouse in Latin American cinema.

The festival opens September 12 with a free screening of Trinta, carnival legend Joãosinho Trinta’s biopic, and it closes September 19 with The Second Mother, Brazil’s official Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film. Excited? So are we. To prove it, here are Remezcla’s top five picks for BRAFF Miami.

The Brazilian Film Festival of Miami runs September 12 – 19, 2015.


Samba & Jazz

Jefferson Mello

This is a documentary of dichotomies and synergy. Two rhythms: Samba and Jazz. Two cities: Río de Janeiro and New Orleans. Although the artists Jefferson Mello interviews in his directorial debut speak two different languages, they share a passion for the same form of expression: music. Combining polished black-and-white interviews with candid, colorful footage of musical performances taken to the streets, Samba & Jazz shows – although far apart geographically – how the two musical genres not only have similar beats and African roots, but how they’ve also enabled the oppressed to have a space where they can be free.

Synopsis By: Camila Rodriguez
Brazil, United States
Jefferson Mello
Lara Velho



Paulo Machline

Trinta tells the story of Joãosinho Trinta, the frustrated classical dancer turned carnavalesco genius. Focusing on the period of Trinta’s arrival in Rio to his first carnival in 1974, the Oscar-nominated director Paulo Machline seeks to reveal the man behind the legend, the João before the glory, the João that you can’t Google. The beloved Brazilian actor Matheus Nachtergaele — better known internationally for his role as Carrot in City of God — brings Trinta to life on the big screen, surrounded by all the gold, feathers, and glitter that one might expect from a biopic of the man who revolutionized Carnaval.

Synopsis By: Camila Rodriguez
Biography, Drama
Cláudio Gualperin, Paulo Machline, Felipe Sholl, Mauricio Zacharias
Joana Mariani e Paulo Machline, Matias Mariani



Mariana Aydar, Joaquim Castro, Eduardo Nazarian

Starting his life as a musical prodigy, Brazilian composer, accordionist, and singer Dominguinhos is featured in this documentary about his life and legendary status in the Brazilian music world. Taking archival footage of Dominguinhos and combining it with a great soundtrack by musicians such as Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Hermeto Pascoal, Djavan, and Nara Leão, directors Mariana Aydar, Joaquim Castro, Eduardo Nazarian bring to life – through dance-worthy Brazilian music – this vibrant, international superstar who popularized a number of genres, including bossa nova, tropicália, funk, jazz, and more.

Synopsis By: Kiko Martinez
Felipe Briso, Gilberto Topczewski


Casa Grande

Fellipe Barbosa

This coming-of-age film by writer-director Fellipe Barbosa (Laura) tells the story of 17-year-old Jean (newcomer Thales Cavalcanti), whose privileged life in Brazil begins to unravel as he gets ready for college. Financial and personal problems in his family and a new love interest begin to affect his future.

Synopsis By: Kiko Martinez
Karen Sztajnberg, Fellipe Barbosa
Iafa Britz, Fernanda de Capua, Mauro Pizzo


Que horas ela volta?

Anna Muylaert

Regina Casé is impressive in the role of a live-in maid, Val, who works for a wealthy family in São Paulo. The arrival of Val’s daughter, whom she has not seen for years, creates a revolution in the household. She calls the boss Bárbara, instead of Dona Bárbara, while both the husband and son fall in love with her. “You’re born knowing what you can and cannot do,” Val reprimands her daughter. She confronts her by putting into question her servitude. The film raises class issues and examines generational gaps.  Director Anna Muylaert, who has worked as a film critic and reporter, drafted a thoughtful script and put care into directing the actors, with a big payoff. Que horas ela volta? (The Second Mother) was Brazil’s submission for the 88th Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Synopsis By: Iñaki Fernández de Retana
Comedy, Drama
Anna Muylaert
Guel Arraes, Debora Ivanov, Gabriel Lacerda, Anna Muylaert, Fabiano Gullane