A Brief History of the Brazilian Cinema


1897 The first cinematograph machine arrived in Brazil.

1900s Twenty-two Cinema houses in the Capital, the first feature film, The Stranglers by Antonio Leal is screened.

1930s Mario Peixoto’s film, Limit is made [silent], a surrealistic work dealing with the conflicts raised by the human condition and how life conspires to prevent total fulfillment.

1933 Cinedia produced The Voice of Carnaval, the first film with Carmen Miranda, which marked the “Chanchada” era or “slapstick comedies.”

1940s The Vera Cruz Film Company was started in Sao Paulo to produce quality films to compete internationally, employing filmmakers from abroad.

1953 Vera Cruz’ The Briand [O Cangaceiro] won the Best Adventure Film award at the Cannes Film Festival.

1950s With Rio 40 Degrees [Rio 40 Graus] directed by Nelson Pereira dos Santos, a radical shift occured in Brazilian cinema by introducing the film techniques of the Italian Neorealism. It is Nelson Pereira dos Santos who ignited the “Cinema Novo” movement. Such films as The Payer of Vows [O Pagador de Promessas] by Anselmo Duarte which won the Palm d’Or [Golden Palm] at the Cannes Film Festival, “Barren Lives” [Vidas Secas], directed by Periera dos Santos, “God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun” [Deus e o Diablo na Terra do Sol], directed by Glauber Rocha., “Empty Nights” [Noite Vazia].

1960s The Tropacalist Movement took ahold of Brazil in its music, theatre and art whose universal goal was to channel all foreign influence into creating unique national products. Tropicalism in Cinema was seen through the use of allegory. Example is “Maucnaima” by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade.

At the same time, “Cinema Marginal” was taking place in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro whose directors focused on themes about a “marginal society.” Examples: “Rio Babylon” by Neville d’Almeida, “He Killed the Family and Went to the Movies,” directed by Julio Bressane, “The Red Light Bandit,” directed by Rogerio Sganzeria.

1969 Embrafilme, the government film agency opened to co-produce, finance, distribute a large percentage of Brazilian films in the 1970s and 1980s. It helped to create more commercially driven films.

1980s Many Brazilian cinemas closed at this time when the Brazilian television dominated. Some films were made like “The don’t Wear Black Ties” directed by Leon Hirzman, “Memories of Prison” directed by Nelson Pereira dos Santos, “The Hour of the Stars” directed by Susana Amaral, “Bye Bye Brasil” directed by Carlos Diegues, and “Pixote” directed by Hector Babenco.

1993 A Law passes to create financial incentives to encourage Brazilian film production. As a result, the number of films has increased dramatically. Examples: “O Quatrilho” directed by Fabio Barreto, “Four Days in September” directed by Bruno Barreto, “Central Station” directed by Walter Salles which won the Golden Bear Grand Prix at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1998 and the Golden Globe’s Best Foreign Film in 1999 and many many others and many more to come.