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The 15 best Brazilian films of 2020

The year 2020 would make a movie. If someone told us what we had ahead of us, it would be almost impossible to believe. A pandemic capable of transforming, messing up and stopping people's routine in the middle of the 21st century? Never. In January, everything seemed fine. We had movie premieres, festivals, face-to-face interviews. In February there was Carnival, that festive breath at the beginning of the year, but already with a certain suspicion of something very strange in the air. The party is over, the hangover has arrived and the Covid-19, that new coronavirus discovered in China, appeared uninvited.

Theaters closed, productions halted, films delayed their releases, and festivals had no idea how they were going to be performed. This is just to mention the audiovisual sector, one of the most affected in this somber year. Not to mention the terrifying numbers of deaths and infections and the irresponsibility of world rulers who doubted the danger. Mostly around here.

Really, the year 2020 would make a movie. If he were Brazilian, his narrative would also count, if a lethal virus were not enough to tie the plot together, with the absurdities raged by the heartless ruler of this nation, with all his arrogance and arrogance. The lack of empathy has caused immeasurable damage to personal and professional lives. Brazilian cinema, in a deep vacuum and lost in the midst of chaos, suffered even more with the expansion of the Federal Government's paralysis regarding the sector, which was amplified by the impacts of the pandemic. Throughout the turmoil, the disregard for Ancine, Agência Nacional do Cinema, and the Cinemateca Brasileira, only reinforced the lack of interest in relation to artists and the history and cultural memory of the country. Until a respite came: the Aldir Blanc Law, an initiative by Federal Deputy Benedita da Silva, with the intention of helping cultural workers and cultural spaces.

Gradually, activities were readapted, cinemas reopened and productions resumed following WHO and World Health Organization safety protocols. Festivals, almost all held in virtual format, gained greater coverage. As a result, the works had a more democratic and amplified visibility. The year 2020 has, once and for all, cemented the strength of digital platforms in the routine of moviegoers. Movies scheduled for the big screen ended up debuting directly on streaming. If, on the one hand, Brazilian cinema lost at the box office, something that has been discussed for some time when it clashes with a gringo blockbuster, on the other hand, the public had easy access to works that would previously have been restricted to a limited audience of few cinemas. .

Although threatened, in a desperate year, Brazilian cinema gained strength. It was prestigious, it was noticed and it also stood out in international festivals, even in remote formats. We did not have the joy of previous years of feeling the emotion of applause at the end of the session, hugging friends and congratulating the filmmakers in person. Or even toasting cinematic encounters and reunions after that euphoric session at a festival. We interact virtually. We did interviews on the computer or on a cell phone screen. But we managed to vibrate and be proud of our art. Even with mask and gel alcohol.

We know that our cinema has always been very well represented in different genres and for all audiences; in large, small and independent productions. The fact is that we are not experiencing the best moment of our culture, which is threatened daily. But, around here, we continue in the fight and with the commitment to captivate, excite, generate reflection and debates, make you smile, cry and immortalize unique moments. Brazilian cinema takes our identity to all corners of the country and the world. With accents, stories, unforgettable characters and competent professionals. It generates jobs, exports talent and creativity.

As usual, making a list of the best of the year is not an easy task. Even more so when we come across such impressive and relevant works. Our past, present and future were brilliantly portrayed in several short and feature films. We were surprised, but we also encountered disappointments. We cry, we smile, we applaud. But we are also tired. We watched the same movie a few times, others unwillingly. We discover actors, actresses, directors. We realize a necessary concern to open our traumas on the big screen (or small screens) and we are also proud of what is ours, made with love and dedication. Yes, the year 2020 would make a movie. Of any genre, Brazilian and awarded.

So, to end this very atypical year, but full of praiseworthy productions, we made a list of the best Brazilian feature films of 2020 that premiered on the commercial circuit in movie theaters and on digital platforms. Check out:

15º: MARIA LUIZA Dirigido por Marcelo Díaz

Winner of the award for best documentary at the Merlinka Festival, Maria Luiza portrays the story of Maria Luiza da Silva, FAB corporal for 22 years and retired due to disability, after assuming her transsexual condition. The film addresses the conflicts, disappointments and achievements of Cabo in its search for identity; investigates the reasons why she was prevented from continuing her military activity as an aviation mechanic and fulfilling her dream: wearing the female uniform. Maria Luiza was born in Ceres, Goiás, as José Carlos, but never recognized herself as a male figure. Interestingly, it was the day of Santos Dumont, patron of Brazilian aviation. When he turned 18, he did his military service and joined the FAB. While serving in the area of ​​aircraft mechanics at the Brasília Air Base, she revealed her desire for a sex change. After many stints with doctors and psychologists in the Air Force, in 1998 she was diagnosed as transsexual and in 2000 the command decided that she should retire with half the salary she was receiving at the time. She asked the Public Ministry for help and began a long process for the recognition of her identity as a trans woman. In 2005, she had the reassignment surgery and in 2007 she corrected gender and name in civil documents. In just one year, his new military identity as Cabo Maria Luiza was issued, unprecedented in the country. The feature went through several festivals, including: É Tudo Verdade, Brasilia Festival of Brazilian Cinema, FIDBA – Buenos Aires International Documentary Festival, San Diego Latino Film Festival, Amsterdam Transgender Film Festival, Geneva International Queer Film Festival, Amazônia Doc – Pan-Amazonian Film Festival, Seattle Latino Film Festival, International Queer Film Festival Playa del Carmen, among others.

*Available on Now, Vivo Play, Apple TV+, Oi Play, YouTube, iTunes and Google Play platforms.

Textos: Vitor Búrigo

Fotos: Divulgação, Luiz Alves (Pacarrete), Victor Jucá (Fim de Festa), Miguel Vassy (Sertânia), Petrus Cariry (O Barco), Mari Nagem (Zona Árida), Diego Bressani (Maria Luiza).

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