Brazilian Modernism at 100

With Triple Canopy & Brooklyn Academy of Music BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave.
Brooklyn, New York 11217

This series, presented with the Brooklyn Academy of Music and programmed by Katrina Dodson, commemorates the bicentennial of Brazil’s independence and the one hundredth anniversary of the legendary 1922 Modern Art Week, which inaugurated a new, uniquely Brazilian sensibility. The artists and writers who convened the readings, exhibitions, and musical performances in São Paulo were devoted to a vision of Brazil as a singular nation but skeptical of any unifying identity, given the country’s continental expanse and postcolonial patchwork of races, languages, and origin myths; as an alternative to the ideal of the nation as a harmonious convergence of cultures, they embraced the flux of identities and collisions between disparate traditions. The films on view highlight Brazilian modernism’s legacy of provocation, inventiveness, and contradictory pluralism as a counter to the homogenizing impulses of colonialism and nationalism, which continues to shape conversations around national identity in and beyond Brazil.

Spanning six decades of Brazilian cinema, the program includes the groundbreaking silent film Limite (1931); Cinema Novo classics from the 1960s that revisit the spirit of the 1920s with a Tropicália soundtrack, and United States premieres of Cinema Marginal director Júlio Bressane’s Miramar (1997) and of a recent documentary on the mythical Indigenous hero who inspired Mário de Andrade’s iconic modernist novel Macunaíma: The Hero With No Character (1928).

Brazilian Modernism at 100 coincides with Triple Canopy’s forthcoming publication of an excerpt from Dodson’s new translation of Macunaíma (New Directions, 2023) as part of Unknown States, an issue on the fictions that make up nations and nationalities.

The films will be screened in person at BAM Rose Cinemas; tickets can be purchased on their website. Proof of full vaccination is required, and masks must be worn at all times at BAM.

Macunaíma (1969)
Friday, February 11, 2022
7:00 p.m. EST
Tickets: $16 for general admission, $8 for BAM members

Directed by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, with Grande Otelo, Paulo José, Jardel Filho.
Digital, 95 min.

Cinema Novo pioneer Joaquim Pedro de Andrade adapts Mário de Andrade’s modernist masterpiece in a work of genre-bending Tropicalismo that mixes myth, comedy, and commentary on Brazil’s 1960s military dictatorship. A modern-day parable, Macunaíma tells the story of the title character, a Black man (Otelo) who is born fully grown to an elderly indigenous woman in the jungles of the Amazon, then magically transforms into a white man (José) and sets off for Rio de Janeiro.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with series programmer Katrina Dodson, filmmaker Rodrigo Séllos, and writer Ananda Lima, moderated by Triple Canopy senior editor Matthew Shen Goodman

Searching for Makunaíma (2020)
Saturday, February 12, 2022
7:00 p.m. EST
Tickets: $16 for general admission, $8 for BAM members

Directed by Rodrigo Séllos.
DCP, 84 min.

Searching for Makunaíma follows Brazil’s most famous fictional character, the modernist writer Mário de Andrade’s Macunaíma, back to his origin as the mythic figure Makunaíma, as he is known to Indigenous people in the northern Amazon. Winner of Best Film Award at the Brasília Film Festival 2020, Rodrigo Séllos’s documentary traces Andrade’s hero across Brazil’s sweeping landscapes and over hundreds of years, letting his story unfold through interviews in Portuguese, German, Spanish, and the indigenous languages Macuxi and Taurepang.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Rodrigo Séllos, moderated by Katrina Dodson.

Brazilwood Man (1982)
Sunday, February 13, 2022
2:00 p.m. EST
Tickets: $16 for general admission, $8 for BAM members

Directed by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, with Ítala Nandi, Flávio Galvão.
Digital, 106 min.

The iconic Brazilian modernist writer Oswald de Andrade is played by two actors—representing his feminine anima and his masculine side—in this fantasy comedy. A poet, playwright, novelist, socialist agitator, and revolutionary, de Andrade was one of the organizers of Brazil’s legendary Week of Modern Art. Brazilwood Man takes its title from de Andrade’s literary manifesto Pau-Brasil (Brazil Wood), a rejection of Portuguese literary and social artifice. The final film by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade (no relation to Oswald), Brazilwood Man is a series of collage-like fragments woven together by the writer’s words and matching his audacious spirit.

Miramar (1997) and Of Murals & Mosaics (2010)
Sunday, February 13, 2022
4:30 p.m. EST
Tickets: $16 for general admission, $8 for BAM members

Miramar (1997)
Directed by Júlio Bressane.
Digital, 82 min.

In Miramar, the director Júlio Bressane, a key figure in São Paulo’s radical Cinema Marginal movement during the late 1960s, offers a loose take on the modernist writer Oswald de Andrade’s bildungsroman Sentimental Memories of João Miramar (1924). The film tells the story of a young man who takes up a 16mm camera after his parents die and determines to record anything that moves in a quest to capture the world as it is. The young cinephile sifts through the influences of Einstein, Jean Cocteau, and Hollywood in Bressane’s boundary-pushing, free-flowing film.

Of Murals & Mosaics (2010)
Directed by Vivian Ostrovsky.
Digital, 16 min.

Of Murals and Mosaics explores Brazil’s midcentury modernist architecture of the 1950s and 60s with an inventive video collage about groundbreaking muralist Paulo Werneck’s incredible mosaics.

The screening will be introduced by director Vivian Ostrovsky.

Limite (1931)
Sunday, February 13, 2022
7:00 p.m. EST
Tickets: $16 for general admission, $8 for BAM members

Directed by Mário Peixoto, with Iolanda Bernardes, Edgar Brasil, Mário Peixoto.
DCP, 120 min.

New cinematic techniques constantly unfold in this extraordinary silent film, a masterful early work of independent Latin American filmmaking and the only feature from Brazilian director and author Mário Peixoto. Filled with luscious images and glorious Brazilian scenery, Limite loosely follows two women and a man adrift at sea, conjuring their pasts to the music of Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, and others.

Antônio das Mortes (1969)
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
7:00 p.m. EST
Tickets: $16 for general admission, $8 for BAM members

Directed by Glauber Rocha, with Maurício do Valle, Lorival Pariz.
16 mm, 95 min.

Cinema Novo provocateur Glauber Rocha’s Antônio das Mortes is a revolutionary allegory about a conflict between landowners and peasants, the battle for an old man’s soul, and Brazil’s future. Once a fearsome assassin of revolutionary and populist leaders, Antônio das Mortes (de Valle) comes out of retirement to take out a young idealist (Pariz). In a striking rural landscape, Antônio confronts the charismatic outlaw, challenging him to a duel with machetes, but he begins to chafe at the idea of carrying out the will of the Europeanized elite.

This public program was made possible through generous support from Jane Hait, a founding member of Triple Canopy Director’s Circle; the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the Foundation for Arts Initiatives; the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional support for Brazilian Modernism at 100 was provided by the Brazil LAB at Princeton University. Research for Unknown States, Triple Canopy’s twenty-seventh issue, was made possible through a Craft Research Fund grant from the Center for Craft.

  • Triple Canopy is a magazine based in New York.
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music is a multi-arts center located in Brooklyn, New York. For more than one hundred and fifty years, BAM has been the home for adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas—engaging both global and local communities. With world-renowned programming in theater, dance, music, opera, film, and much more, BAM showcases the work of emerging artists and innovative modern masters.