Adam Cook / Film Reviews / Vancity Theatre

Glauber Rocha and the Cinema Novo

By Adam Cook

“Cinema Novo stood with the Brazilian utopia. Whether it is ugly, irregular, dirty, confusing and chaotic, it is, on the other hand, beautiful, shining and revolutionary.” – Glauber Rocha

On Tuesday, August 30th, we are proud to present, along with the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival, a very special double bill of two of the greatest films of all time by the Brazilian master of cinema, Glauber Rocha.

Glauber Rocha was best known for being the main figure of Brazil’s Cinema Novo movement, which rose in the 1960s and 70. Cinema Novo was a political resistance to mainstream cinema that was concerned with working class people and social equality—not unlike the Italian Neorealism of the 1940s. Cinema Novo filmmakers were also influenced by the French New Wave who showed that films could be made completely outside of hegemonic film language. Using the so-called “aesthetics of hunger”, Glauber Rocha made works to shine a light on the oppressed. His two masterpieces, Black God, White Devil, and Entranced Earth (both screening at Vancity Theatre), are seen as the two most important works of the Cinema Novo.

Black God, White Devil (1964), is a philosophical crime drama about a man and wife, Manuel and Rosa, who are on the run after Manuel kills his boss who tries to rob him. An assault on a dogmatic culture, the film is as existential as it is political. Entranced Earth (1967) is a cynical takedown of political process set in a fictitious country in Latin America. Paolo, an idealistic journalist, opposes two corrupt political candidates who used to be his friends, one is the leader of the conservative government, the other of a falsely populist government. This compelling allegorical drama was a boldly subversive gesture in 60s Brazil which was now under a military dictatorship. Both of these films are brave and essential, that are still regrettably relevant today.

A member of the radical left, Rocha left Brazil in exile after the military coup, but returned in support of restoring democracy. He died from a lung infection at the age of 42, but he left behind works of art that are still being unpacked and discovered today. Join us on August 30th to appreciate the enduring work of a subversive visionary.

The films screen in a double bill at Vancity Theatre on August 30th at 6:30pm. Buy tickets at vlaff.org or at the door.

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