Neighbouring Sounds by Brazilian Kleber Mendonça Filho, screened in Sodankylä in 2012, was one of the most praised debut features of the year. Its follower Aquarius was received with even more praise, and it touches upon the same themes of environment, living, and social differences in the urban neighbourhoods of Recife, the home town of the director in northern Brazil. Aquarius has also received some extra-cinematic attention in Cannes and the Brazilian Oscar nominations due to protests and back door activity around Brazil’s right wing engineering.
Brazil’s most famous actress, the sexy star of Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) Sonia Braga, makes a stunning return to international success at 65. She dominates the movie with ease as Clara, a widowed music critic fighting a one woman’s war for the right to stay in her home of four decades; the last resident of a seaside apartment block called “Aquarius”. She stands against her neighbours, money, corruption – and, to an extent, her children.
Clara fights them as relentlessly as she did breast cancer (which is revealed in a startling way), pushed by her beloved memories against the all-embracing market forces and prejudices. Intimate relations, music, literature, and visual arts create an irresistibly rich sensual and cultural backdrop to Clara’s Brazilian lifestyle. (TM)
KLEBER MENDONÇA FILHO (1968) is a true cinephile; before taking on directing, he worked as a critic, a festival organiser, and a film producer. His first five short films between 1997 and 2009 were praised so much that his debut feature Neighbouring Sounds raised high expectations – and met them, winning several awards, including the Critics’ Association award at Rotterdam International Film Festival. The neighbourhood drama starring an amazing ensemble of actors takes place mainly on Mendonça Filho’s home street. He used this to gain a documentary aspect, as well as to depict familiar architecture and social insecurity. In his future film Bacurau, Mendonça Filho is said to be moving on to the inland jungles of Brazil.