Rio, Northern Zone
(Rio, Zona Norte)

Director in Person
Screening on Film
$12 Special Event Tickets
Directed by Nelson Pereira dos Santos.
With Grande Otelo, Malu, Jece Valadão.
Brazil, 1957, 35mm, black & white, 90 min.
Portuguese with English subtitles.

Setting up the gracefully jarring dichotomies that disrupt dos Santos’ otherwise “traditional” film, the opening credit montage features the discovery of a body on the train tracks while a cookie-cutter Hollywood soundtrack idly plays. The injured man is Espírito da Luz Cardoso (literally “Spirit of the Light”), a struggling composer whose sambas unite and uplift the marginalized Brazilian people in his midst. Based on the life of composer Zé Keti – who actually appears in the film as the popular singer Alaor – Espírito’s story unfolds through flashbacks which overflow luxuriously with song, yet also expose the manifold divisions within Rio’s social strata. A victim of exploitive businessmen who suck the life out of his music, Espírito witnesses each of his dreams dashed one at a time by unrelenting tragedy. Apparently oblivious to his inherent goodness and irrepressible joy, the plot of the film – much like capitalism’s surge through 1950s Rio de Janiero – boldly charges forward leaving true beauty and vitality lying upon its tracks.

Part of program

Read more

Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Cinema Novo and Beyond

Current and upcoming programs

Read more
young girl on mountain top looking up at an Aztec-looking ship floating in a sunset-colored sky

Weekend Matinee

Read more

Abbas Kiarostami, A Cinema of Participation