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MACUNAÍMA

Brazil, 1969 (MIFF 1971, Programme H)

Director: Joaquim Pedro de Andrade

Macunaima comes from the studios of the Brazilian Cinema Novo group, young filmmakers working on Indian culture and usually delving into social, economic and political ills with seriousness or visionary zeal.

This time, however, they have embarked upon comedy to convey their message in a picaresque and witty way that is as effective in looking at man and his society as its more serious counterparts.

A comic parable of the folk antihero singularly lacking in conscience, Macunaima employs all means available in the struggle for survival.

Born black to a primitive family isolated in the Brazilian jungle and touted as the saviour of his family, he has no hesitation in taking advantage of anything that comes along, be it his parents or his brothers' girls. He is not even adverse to hiding food in times of blight.

En route to the city after his mother's death, he bathes in a magic spring that turns him white. His adventures in the city engage him in encounters with a professional girl revolutionary, and a millionaire whose wife and daughters eat people.

All of which serves to probe into the absurd aspects of racism, the plight of the natives, and the ways in which different layers of society feed upon one another.

... benefits from rich inventive incidents, fine decorative aspects and the right playing to give this a low down, free wheeling humour and also making it a biting moral social comedy... It hits the right level of caricature, spoof, human comedy and abrasive burlesque to ring in many laughs.

Mosk in Variety

First Prize, Mar del Plata

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