Berlinale Blog “Sangue Azul” and “Beira-Mar” in the Brazilian Programme

“Beira-Mar” (Seashore) by Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon
“Beira-Mar” (Seashore) by Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon | Photo (detail): © Berlinale

The feature film “Sangue Azul” opened the Berlinale Panorama section in four sold-out theatres. “Beira-Mar” has likewise opened in the festival cinemas.

Sangue azul (Blue Blood), a film by director Lírio Ferreira which won the 2014 Rio Film Festival, is set in the Fernando de Noronha archipelago. “We wanted the film to be set on an island. When we returned from a visit there, we were so enthusiastic about the location that it ended up actually having a role in the film”, reports the director, explaining the choice of filming location.

Old conflicts flare up

A circus sets up camp for a season on the archipelago. One of the main attractions is Zolah, an artiste who has returned to the island after having left it as a child. His homecoming and the presence of the circus change the daily lives of the island’s inhabitants and cause old conflicts to flare up again, including Zolah’s incestuous relationship with his sister. In an allusion to cinema itself, the film also submerges itself in the world of circus magic and illusion. From time to time the director adds an element of mysticism, especially in the scenes in which an old islander (Ruy Guerra) makes prophecies about the archipelago. Sangue Azul relies on careful camera work to highlight the paradise that is Fernando de Noronha – what stands out particularly is the breath-taking opening sequence in black-and-white, which is reminiscent of images by photographers such as Pierre Verger.

Subtropical winter

From tropical Brazil we now travel to the country’s southernmost tip, to a (wintry) beach on the coast of Rio Grande do Sul, the setting for the film Beira-mar (Seashore). This film debut by Filipe Matzembacher and Marcelo Reolon is about two young men, both roughly 18 years old, whose confrontation with family problems and discovery of their sexuality prompts them to reflect on their lives and their relationship with the world.  

Beira-mar uses close-ups, out-of-focus shots and restless camera work to present the universe of the characters to us in a subtle and intimate way. The film develops in a rhythm that seems as slow and calm as a desolate beach in winter. The colour spectrum is always shifting into white, be it when portraying the light on cold and overcast days or when composing images in which white elements predominate. “We wanted to isolate the characters in the house, which is why the window lights are always dazzlingly bright. Gradually they begin to see things more clearly”, explain the directors, who met back in film school and have worked together ever since. Their next feature film, Garoto Neon, has just been selected for funding by the Dutch Hubert Bals Fund.

Sangue Azul and Beira-Mar are competing, alongside another Brazilian film Ausência (Absence), for the Teddy Award for films dealing with LGBT themes.