You can find details here. The films will be shown from October 21, 2011 through October 27, 2011. Admission is free. All films are in Portuguese with English subtitles. Each film will be repeated several times. Check the schedule at the Brazilian Embassy Web Site by following the link above.
So far (October 22, 2011), my wife and I have attended only the film VIPs. It is reminiscent of the American film Catch Me If You Can — both films are based on the exploits of real con men and impersonators. Catch Me If You Can was more informative about the mechanisms of cons and impersonations and about the police work that led to the capture of the con artist. My wife and I and one other member of the audience whom we interviewed found VIPs not unpleasant, but not outstanding. I would rate it as moderately interesting. For the foreigner, VIPs is neither very revealing of Brazilian culture nor very useful as a travelogue. Although the protagonist is neither sympathetic nor fully sane, I found myself rooting for him to get away with some of his exploits. Evidently, he had some real talent, but not much sense about how to deploy it.
Today (October 23, 2011) we saw Malu on a Bicycle. I enjoyed it. My wife did not. In contrast with VIPs, I think this film offers the foreigner both some insight into Brazilian culture and some interesting views of São Paulo, plus a coconut-seller’s stand on the beach at Leblon in Rio de Janeiro. The plot is not new — love, jealousy, loss. The themes of obsessive casual sex, parties, machismo and jealousy do in fact represent a part of the Brazilian reality. Some of these same themes distressed Kate Lawrence, the protagonist of Farewell Rio, in 1968, and were part of the mixture of love and impatience she felt toward Brazil. At least one of our Brazilian friends bears some resemblance, at times, to Luiz, the protagonist of the film Malu on a Bicycle, and Luiz’s jealousy bears some resemblance to that of Sérgio, Kate Lawrence’s former lover in the novel Farewell Rio.
At previous Brazilian film festivals in Washington, we have seen some films like Central Station and City of God that subsequently had successful commercial releases in the United States. I doubt that any of the six films presented at the Fifth Annual Brazilian Film Week will have commercial releases in the United States, particularly not the film we saw tonight (October 25, 2011), Reflections of a Blender. We thought it expressed a peculiarly Brazilian sensibility that would not travel well. Perhaps, for that reason, it may be the most informative for the foreigner of the three films we have seen. The film is set in São Paulo. It’s narrator is a kitchen blender. The film is a gruesome horror story, played for laughs. The characters are decidedly unglamorous. Most of the action takes place in a neighborhood that looks clean, but not prosperous. As in Malu on a Bicycle, philandering and jealousy are central to the action.
For a brief list of some our our favorite Brazilian films, see this posting.