Saturday, March 21, 2009


This is one amazing film that it’s hard to believe that the film is 31 years-old as the story is compelling, the performance by the lead actress is just outstanding and as a movie uses very dramatic resources to produce a remarkable, impactful, and unforgettable film. I always love movies that make me feel all sort of emotions and in this sense, this film is one that made me feel a lot of intense and opposite emotions thanks to the story but especially to the mixture of visuals, ecclectic music and the narrative that moves in time at its own will.

Written and directed by Sergio Toledo tells a story inspired on the life of Sandra Mara Herzer the author of “A queda para o alto” that is a collection of her poetry and autobiographical essays and surely because it’s based on a true life story is what makes the movie impactful and disturbing. After watching the movie I read about the life of Sandra Mara Herzer and my impression is that the film took very little artistic liberties to tell her real raw life.

The films tells about Vera when she is an intern at FEBEM (Fundação Estadual do Bem Estar do Menor), which is a correctional for 12 to 21 years old girls and boys (had to read about it to learn this information, as in the movie you are not really sure if is an orphanage or a correctional). The story moves in time to when she’s released under the sponsorship of a professor that helps her to find a place to live and work as he’s aware of her talent as a poetry writer and stimulates her to write her life story. As in present time Vera slowly becomes clearly Bauer and falls in love with Clara, the narrative also takes us back to when she was an intern so we can understand her motives to feel like a man trapped in a woman body.

If you want to read more about the plot and Sergio Toledo’s vision of the story and movie I suggest you check the book Visible Nations: Latin American Cinema and Video by Chon A. Noriega, pages 131 to 141 or go here; also you can check the book Female Masculinity by Judith Halberstam pages 215 to 217 or go here.

To think that in 1986 there was a movie so much ahead of his time is an understatement, as the movie deals with challenges at work and home to conform to conventional gender norms and struggling with issues of masculinity and gender expression that still today not many films have dared to touch and much less as a beautiful surreal story of isolation, love and identity. Truly outstanding and amazing!

The movie is totally stolen by Ana Beatriz Nogueira that plays Vera/Bauer and makes the character multi-dimensional thanks to outstanding expressions that without words absolutely tell all. Just for her mesmerizing performance the movie is more than worth it. But as a movie is also fabulous, with a slow pace that allows to see and feel everything, an impressive use of chiaro –oscuro, excellent framing in many scenes and other outstanding tech specs that it is hardly believable that this was Sergio Toledo first feature film.

The movie was screened in competition for a Golden Bear at the 1987 Berlinale where Ana Beatriz Nogueira won the Silver Bear for Best Actress; she also won the Best Actress award at the 1987 Nantes fest. In Brazil Nogueira won the Candango award for Best Actress (tie) and the two other awards for sound and soundtrack at the 1986 Festival de Brasilia.

This is truly a fascinating jewel from Brazilian cinema that I’m so grateful to a dear friend that let me know it existed about two years ago and thanks to another dear friend I was able to finally watch this hidden and unknown-to-many cinema masterpiece.

Last but not least I also learned that the film is in the archives of the Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation and I suggest browsing the project site here to learn about the many LGBT titles that are available in their archives.

I highly recommend this movie to those that enjoy the lesbian interest genre, but also to those that enjoy art and serious cinema.

Big Enjoy!!!

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