Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sensational comedy starts Brazilian Film Festival


     The 5th annual Brazilian Film Festival at Valencia College kicked off with a roller coaster ride of comedy, and great numbers of cinema fans turned out thanks to the largest advertising campaign yet.
    
     “I feel very proud that it’s been so successful,” said Richard Sansone, a professor of Portuguese and English as a Second Language at Valencia and organizer of the event. “It brings together the Brazilian community and gives the community at large a chance to understand Brazilian culture.”
    
     The first film featured in this year’s multi-day festival was “De Pernas Pro Ar,” which translates into “Head over Heels.” This film, which contained an advisory that viewers be at least 14-years-old, was marketed as a sex comedy.
    
     The film stars Brazil’s much beloved comedic actress, Ingrid Guimarães, who plays a determined businesswoman having trouble balancing her personal and professional life.
    
     She finds herself at a crossroads after her husband leaves due to a lack of attention, and loses her job because of a major mishap at the office. She then finds herself going into business with a former rival in an adult sex shop. Throughout the film there is constant humor from the clumsy and sexually inexperienced protagonist.
    
     She fights to rebuild her family relationships, all the while dealing with her surprise success in the taboo market she finds herself in. The film has some nudity and skates the line of what is acceptable for young viewers with many occasions of heavily sexually charged situations.
    
     To say this is a cultural shock to more conservative audience members would be an understatement. It’s apparent that this film would easy be rated R by American standards with a large number of stimulating adult sex devices, scantily clad ladies showing off their goods, and even a few simulated orgasms. There is so much sex throughout this film, that any foul language and excessive nudity would easily bump this film into an NC-17 rating.
    
     This film was wildly successful in Brazil and is considered highly marketable as a sex comedy that focuses on family issues. Sex in Brazil isn’t viewed so much as pornographic, but instead is approached as getting a full experience out of life. This confronts the cultural difference of American standards of what is tolerable to a family or younger viewers.

     While American audiences are shocked by high sexual content in films, foreign audiences are just as shocked by our accepted level of graphic violence in films..
    
     “I’ve always wanted to come out to this film festival but couldn’t make it before. I’m real excited to share that connectivity with my Brazilian family,” said student Mariana Brum.
    
     The rest of the films in this year’s festival are just as diverse, culturally rich and offer much for lovers of foreign films to enjoy. The Oscar nominated documentary “Waste Land” is on the list of films this year, and the festival will end with a world premiere called “Matraga” at West Campus on Feb. 17. This film has not been screened outside of the Rio International Film Festival where it won several awards.
    
     Students and the general movie going public that came out for this event were treated to not only a free movie, but also live entertainment and free Brazilian delicacies. There was the sweet passion fruit dessert of mousse maracuja, chocolate treats like brigadeiros, different types of the popular coxinha, and much more. All this along with refreshments were provided free to guests by a new Brazilian restaurant near West Campus, called Silva’s Market.
    
     Word about the festival has been spread through advertisements in local Brazilian businesses, attention grabbing spots in several publications, and even featured on the local Telemundo station. Along with word of mouth and social media, this event has never seen bigger crowds.
    
     “This is a great event every year and the movies they show are very good,” said SGA president at West Campus, Patrick O’Connor. “Great writing, great actors, comedy is there, and action is there. You really get to see prime examples of another culture.”
    
     The film ended with an engaging question and answer session between members of the audience and professor Sansone, with special guests Brazilian film producer Elisa Tolomelli and director Mahu De Martino. They spoke in great detail about the film and answered questions about the different cultural standards in Brazil.
    
     The Brazilian film festival at Valencia College strongly reflects the driving desire of international understanding and cooperation with the world community. It all can start with cultural events like this festival, and the several study abroad programs that Valencia is internationally known for providing to students.

By James Tutten
info@jamestutten.com

(Published: Feb. 15, 2012 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 14.)

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