Brazil Film Fest Toronto

5 films to watch at the 2012 Brazil Film Fest

Bless the Brazilians for reminding us that although summer may be over, the bossa nova beat goes on! The 2012 edition of the Brazil Film Fest screens at the Royal from today (Oct 18) to Sunday Oct 21, and with seven feature films and three documentaries, there's plenty of Brazil to satiate your craving this fall, minus the exorbitant travel fees.

With a feel-good road movie (Take It Easy) and lots of Brazilian beach getting screen time (Captains of the Sand), the festival is sure to cause weather envy for everyone who has started eying their woollen mitts with trepidation. But a good chunk of the program is far from summer escapist flicks.

Included among the documentaries is a look at Carmen Miranda, one of Brazil's most famous exports, and the harsh price of international fame in Carmen: Bananas is My Business, as well as a film about the police security crackdown on the favelas in order to remove the drug mafia's hold (Peace in Rio), as told by four young filmmakers from the region.

Here now are my top 5:

Captains of the Sand (2011)
Based on the bestselling novel by Jorge Amado, this is the story of a gang of street kids in 1950s Salvador. Bonding together in a brotherhood of the abandoned, they commit a string of petty thefts and sophisticated mansion robberies. When the boys-only gang is disrupted by the presence of Dora, a young, beautiful orphan girl, they begin to discover love. Captains of the Sand took the Best Film - Audience Award at the 15th Punta del Este International Film Festival, and half a dozen other awards at other festivals since. So, you know. It might be an okay watch. Just a thought. This is also the festival's opening night film, and director Cecilia Amado will be in attendance. Screening: Thursday Oct 18, 7pm, The Royal

Take It Easy (2010)
What's better than a road movie? A Brazilian road movie! Three girls - Tita, Mari and Aninha - decide to escape the stress in their lives with a weekend getaway to the beach in BĂşzios. Along the way they meet a hippie girl, Estrella, who is also headed to BĂşzios to find her father. They travel together and through hilarious and absurd situations, and life-changing lessons, end up finding themselves. Warning: beach shots may trigger impulse ticket-purchases. Screening: Saturday Oct 20, 5pm, The Royal

Dirty Hearts (2011)
When World War II ended with Japan's loss, a new war began in Brazil - this one a conflict between the Japanese immigrants who accepted defeat, and those who did not agree that the war was over. Dirty Hearts tells the story of one such fighter. This award-winning film is co-presented with the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, the Toronto Korean Film Festival, and the Toronto Japanese Film Festival. Screening: Sunday Oct 21, 3.50pm, The Royal

Peace in Rio (2010)
When Rio de Janeiro created the Unidade de Policia Unificadora (UPP) it was the first step in the consolidation of a new security policy regarding the state's reclamation of the territories in the favelas controlled by the drug mafia, in order to liberate the inhabitants.
The measure's immediate success triggered debate throughout the country, and this film is a documentary tracing these efforts, directed by four young filmmakers who grew up native to the favelas themselves. Released in 2010, it is co-presented here with Hot Docs, and has received awards at film festivals from Rio de Janeiro, to New York, to Stockholm, to Sweden. Definitely worth checking out. Screening: Friday Oct 19, 7pm, The Royal

Rat Fever (2011)
On the Brazil Film Fest website, Rat Fever is described as "the alcohol-drenched story of an unrequited love." There's not much more to be said after that, really. But I will go on anyway. Zizo is a purebred anarchist poet, and his muse is the sober Eneida. Unfortunately, being his muse is as far as she'll go with him, and Zizo can't understand this, given that in his social circle of bohemian friends and proud outsiders, everyone sleeps with everyone else. But he is also busy fighting "the system" through a self-published newsletter, the "Febre de Rato" of the title - but his efforts don't seem to capture anyone's attention beyond his own circle of friends. Shot in black and white, Rat Fever is a "high spirited manifesto of freedom, anarchy and sex" and is definitely a must-see for this festival. Screening: Friday Oct 19, 9.15pm, The Royal

Writing by Gesilayefa Azorbo

Still from Captains of the Sand

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