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Film Critics: Today, December 13, winners from Dallas ForthWorthFCA, ChicagoFCA and Film Comment Magazine. Nominations from HoustonFCS, PhoenixCC. PhoenixFCS.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias (The Year My Parents Went On Vacation)


This Cao Hamburger film is one of the best I have seen lately as it’s very sensitive, delicate and involving movie. It’s quite amazing that when you’re telling a story about such serious matters, some writers and filmmakers can really do it in an unsentimental and very effective way. Here you will be able to see a little about politics, more about life in a Jewish community and a lot more about Brazil passion for soccer; but this setting allows telling the sweeter story about friendship between two people with the most different backgrounds you can imagine.

The movie tells the story of 10-year-old Mauro that in 1970 had to go to live with his grandfather while his parents went on “vacation”. But his grandfather dies a few hours before his parents drop him at his house and he is left all alone in an alien Jewish community and in the eve of the World Cup Championship were Brazil wins for the third time the World Cup. His grandfather neighbor Shlomo finds him and what follows is the most incredible and sweet story about a boy that definitively has the most natural and realistic coming-of-age I have seen in the screen.

I believe I have to tell you more about the story so you get a better idea of how amazing the story is, so if you do not want to learn more spoilers, please skip the following paragraph.

First I have to mention that as in most of Latin American countries, Brazil in the ‘70s had a terrible dictatorship and people fighting against it. So, Mauro’s parents went on “vacation” because they were fleeing persecution and they tensely leave him at the grandfather’s building door. Then Mauro is a “goy”, his father is Jewish while her mother is not, so he’s not familiar with Jewish traditions. As many boys and all age people in Brazil, Mauro’s passion is soccer and when Brazil plays in a World Cup, the whole country literally stops to watch.

So, the story is not only outstanding but also the movie as a movie is unbelievably good with excellent performances by actors and non-actors. I usually have a hard time with movies and kids actors, but here there are two exceptionally good performances by Michel Joelsas that plays Mauro and Daniela Piepszyk that plays Hanna, both performances are mainly done with face expression and both kid actors are truly amazing transmitting emotions. Then cinematography is excellent with a great art direction that pays much attention to little details in a nostalgic recreation of 1970 Sao Paulo and a very involving editing that keeps your eyes glued to the screen while your hearth warms to the beauty shown.

The movie has many honors and accolades including being in competition at the 2007 Berlinale and being the Brazil submission to the 2008 Oscar’s where it was one of the nine films selected in the short list for Best Foreign Language. Unfortunately it didn’t make it to the five nominated and have to say, once more, shame to the Academy members as this movie is a lot more interesting, compelling and well done than any of the final five nominations.

The film has one outstanding extra, real footage of the 1970 World Cup with Pele scoring some of his most famous goals and I say this not really being a soccer fan, but once every four years I do watch some games, especially when Brazil has an excellent team like in 1970.

This truly is a movie apt for all audiences that enjoy excellent cinema with excellent stories and have to mention that sometimes I feel angst when I decide to watch a Brazilian movie as most tell raw, rough and cutting-edge stories that I do not enjoy as I can see them for real very nearby; but this movie was such an unexpected surprise that really warmed my heart and when the movie was over I kept repeating to myself how beautiful this movie was.

I strongly recommend this movie to all adult audiences. I waited more than a year to be able to watch this movie, but it was a more than worth wait. Big Chapeau to Cao Hamburger for such a beautiful movie.

Big Enjoy!!!

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