From Christian del Moral, a look at Premiere Brazil at MoMA

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When it comes to Brazilian cinema, NYC audiences are adventurous and love taking chances–that’s according to Jytte Jensen (curator at The Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Film), who, along with Ilda Santiago (director of the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival) is organizing Premiere Brazil, which begins tomorrow at MoMA.

But there’s one theme in Brazilian culture that will make New Yorkers go to MoMA. “The films on music are perhaps the most popular overall,” she said. ‘This is perhaps the most beloved aspect of Brazilian culture –certainly the most well-traveled–and we have had numerous great films centered on music and musicians every year.”

And with that, Premiere Brazil will not only present a vast work from the giant of South America, including two documentaries about music, but live performances of Brazilian music in the museum’s Sculpture Garden. On opening night, Porto Alegre diva Adriana Calcanhotto, who also appears in one of the films in the line-up (Helena Solberg’s Palavra (En)cantada), will delight fans. “I can’t wait to hear her live myself!” said Jensen.

Also making its world premiere, and keeping up with the new generation of music lovers, Beyond Ipanema: Brazilian Waves in Global Music, which explores that world from Carmen Miranda to Bebel Gilberto to CSS.

Celebrating its seventh anniversary, Premiere Brazil is becoming one of the trademarks of MoMA, but what makes it so special? “The movies are making it special”, said Jensen. “There’s a surprising crop of new filmmaking talent premiering every year, and the energy of the overall filmmaking also by established filmmakers is consistently high.”

For example, this year documentary lovers will be treated to the first US retrospective of the maestro of non-fiction, Eduardo Coutinho.

Aside from that high point, is there any movie from Premiere Brazil that might get US distribution? We asked Ilda Santiago: “Definitely! Opening night’s Last Stop 174, which was acquired recently for the US. And also Beyond Ipanema, a documentary which “talks” directly with the American audience. But I would love to see a film like That’s It, a coming-of-age story, get released. Let’s see how the MoMA public reacts. And a film like Should Nothing Work Out, a true urban film with characters so full of life and drama. It would be great to see that happen.”

–Christian Del Moral, Cine Latino en Nueva York

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