Tuesday, 4 October 2016

LFF 2016 PREVIEW: AQUARIUS


'Expansive yet focused, Aquarius confirms Mendonca's commitment to Brazil's middle-class populace and asserts a newly evident skill for dramatic storytelling'
Jordan Cronk, Sight & Sound

'A deeply moving yet wry tribute to the resistance of small islands of human integrity'
Carmen Gray, AnOther

'Aquarius establishes [Mendonca Filho's] authorial voice as well as his place as one of the most eloquent filmic commentators on the contemporary state of Brazilian society'
Giovanni Marchini Camia, The Film Stage

Kleber Mendonca Filho made a big impression on many, myself included, with his remarkably accomplished debut narrative feature Neighbouring Sounds in 2012. This year, he returned to make an even bigger splash, showing in competition at Cannes to great acclaim with his follow-up, Aquarius. Both director and star Sonia Braga were lauded by critics for their portrayal of a woman stubbornly and provocatively refusing to vacate her apartment block, of which she is the sole remaining resident, to allow developers to put up a new resort. The political activity of cast and crew at Cannes in May has attracted much controversy to the film, including public criticism from prominent voices, the appointment of one of whom to the Oscar Foreign Language Film selection committee for Brazil resulted in some filmmakers officially withdrawing their works from consideration. Mendonca Filho is, by my judgement, a great filmmaker with a solid sense of moral responsibility, so I'm very much looking forward to seeing Aquarius at the London Film Festival this year. The fest kicks off tomorrow, and I'll be commencing my coverage on Friday!