Cannes Classics 16.05.16 . 08:40 AM
Update13.02.18 . 09:44 AM

Cinema Novo, close-up on a movement that revolutionised Brazilian cinema

Film still of Cinema Novo

Film still of Cinema Novo © RR

With its focus on political and social issues, Cinema Novo revolutionised the thematic and aesthetic approach of Brazilian directors in the 50s. Director Eryk Rocha returns with a documentary on the most important cinematographic upheaval in the whole of Latin America.

Why did it seem important to you to look back at this movement? 


The cultural baggage of Cinema Novo is very rich and fertile. It often comes to mind when I think of the current situation in Brazil. I see the movement as a landmark – a blend of poetry and politics – in a constantly changing reality, just like Brazil itself. Cinema Novo came out of my need to explore my country's cultural and political history.


Why did it represent such a turning point in the history of Brazilian cinema?

The films it produced helped create a certain image of Brazil around the world. It had something in common with the most avant-garde movements. It was very powerful – both intellectually and visually – and it propagated a revolutionary approach to reality at the time. A new generation of filmmakers was born in this context of political and cultural trance, which reached its climax in the 60s. They invented a new way of making films – a new approach, in which cinema took to the streets and came face to face with the population, raising the question of a new political élan combining revolution and art.

"Cinema Novo encapsulated a country in the throes of change and gave it a new language"


What is the legacy of Cine Novo on the Brazil of today?


I think the movement made a very deep impression and has contributed to the very essence of the country today. It left the new generations a legacy – a state of mind dominated by courage and inventiveness. The films made during the years of the movement were driven by a sense of urgency which was very timely. The need to reflect reality as closely as possible created a new way of making films, with an idea in your head and a camera in your hand. Those films ignored the frontier between fiction and documentary. Cinema Novo marked the transition from a rural world to an urban society, from the drought-stricken land to the favelas. It encapsulated a country in the throes of change and gave it a new language.


What was your process in working on the documentary?

Cinema Novo was largely made in the editing room. The editing itself, which took nine months, lies at the heart of the film. We used over 130 different archives to create the narrative. This host of little snippets of film came together in a melody which formed the backbone of our story.

Written by Benoit Pavan

Cannes Classics



BRAZIL - 2016


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