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Brazilian Cinema Day: Here Are Some Brazilian Movies You Should Watch

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

124 years ago, Afonso Segreto – Brazil's first director e cameraman – registered moving pictures in the national territory. That's why every year, on June 19th, we celebrate National Cinema Day. 

The Brazilian movie industry has been constructing a unique view on social matters, portraying society's daily life not based on stereotypes found online, but on real experience.

In this article, we gathered some movies that tell the story and the reality of Brazilian people with beautiful screening and great acting. They're worth the watch! Check them out:

Limite (1931)

This movie, ranked as the Best Brazilian Movie Of All Time by Abraccine (Brazilian Association of Cinema Critics), tells the story of three people – a man and two women – that had seen their ship sink and were on a simple boat. Tired of paddling for their lives, they start telling their stories and sharing experiences.

The silent and remarkable film directed by Mário Peixoto is available on Youtube and has been selected as one of Martin Scorsese's selections for its World Cinema Project.

Kiss of the Spider Woman (1986)

Directed by Hector Babenco, the movie is about two prisoners that share the same cell that is learning how to respect and live with each other midst the military dictatorial period. Both of them try to distract each other from the pain that haunts them.

William Hurt, participating in this half-Brazilian production, won an Oscar and a BAFTA award in the category of Best Actor, and the movie was also nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Babencos' masterpiece is available on the Brazilian video platform Globoplay.

Central Station (1998)

In Central Station, Dora works writing letters to those who cannot read or write in a station in Rio de Janeiro, although she doesn't always send them. One day, she meets a boy whose mother had been running over and died - and helps him find his father whom he never met, but knew lived in another state of the country.

This movie, because of the beautiful story and the impeccable Dora portrayal from Fernanda Montenegro, was highlighted during the awards season. She is - until now - the only Brazilian woman to be nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars. Although she didn't come out as the winner, she made history. Central station can be watched on Apple TV+, Globoplay, and Telecine.

A Dog's Will (2000)

A Dog's Will is an adaptation of a Brazilian theater play, a homolog to the film. The plot revolves around the adventures of João Grilo (Matheus Nachtergaele) and Chicó (Selton Mello), the "most cowardly of men." Both are cartoonish personas, that find themselves in struggling and hilarious situations in the poor life of North-East Brazilians in their early thirties.

Guel Arraes' production was a critical success in Brazil. It's available on Globoplay as well.

City of God (2002)

The story follows Cidade de Deus: a slum in Rio de Janeiro. The narrator is Rocket, one of the dwellers of the complex, depicting the growth of organized crime in the suburb between the late sixties and the beginning of the eighties.

The movie is violently real and gives a factual perspective behind crime "glamour". Available on US' Hbo Max, Vudu, and Apple TV+. In Brazil, you can watch it on Globoplay and Paramount+

Carandiru (2003)

"Carandiru" is a Brazilian drama film directed by the same mind behind "Kiss of the Spider-Woman", Héctor Babenco. It is inspired by Drauzio Varella's book Estação Carandiru. In this book, the doctor shares his experiences inside São Paulo's most famous jail – where a massacre caused by police hands occurred, in 1992.

The movie's an intimal portrayal of prisoners' lives, wishes, and dreams. Although they are not very humanized in society, they're still human beings that deserve their rights to be respected. The movie is available with Prime Video, Telecine, and Globoplay subscription, being also attainable for rent on Apple Tv, Youtube, and Google Play.

Nighthawk (2019)

Bacurau is a small town in the Brazilian sertão. The story starts by mourning the loss of its matriarch, Carmelita, who lived to be 94. Days later, its inhabitants notice that their community has vanished from most maps. From there on, the story turns bizarre and features mysterious killings and chilling visuals.

Directed by Kleber mendonça Filho, the movie has 52 wins for 72 nominations, including the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. This masterpiece tells a lot about Brazilian society unexpectedly and amazingly, and you can check it out on Telecine, Globoplay, Google Movies, and Youtube for rent. In the US, you can watch it on Hulu or Prime Video.

M8 - When Death Rescues Life (2019)

When Maurício becomes a student at a top medical school, he starts to obsess over a mystery linked to the dead bodies used for dissection. It all starts when he gets in touch with M8: the first body his class was responsible for dissecting.

This movie is directed by Jeferson De, a genius behind many films about racial matters like "Doctor Gama", the first slave to free himself with the power of the law. M8 is available on Netflix and Apple TV.

Marighella (2019)

Carlos Marighella was, at the climax of the military dictatorship, the number one enemy of the State by the accusation of engaging in "terrorist acts". Directed by Wagner Moura, the movie is a nationalist love letter to Brazilian free speech and human rights, fighting against censorship and torture.

The movie debuted at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival in 2019 and is now available on Globoplay.

Executive Order (2022)

In a dystopian future, the Brazilian government decrees a provisional measure that demands black citizens to return to Africa, claiming to "return to the country's origins".

In a touching, comic, and tragic portrayal, Executive Order stars brilliant names like Taís Araujo, Seu Jorge, Alfred Enoch, and Emicida and is a must-see movie for everyone. As it has just been released, the movie is available in cinemas all over Brazil. 

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The article above was edited by Marina Ponchio

Liked this type of content? Check Her Campus Casper Libero's home page for more!

Gabriela Antualpa

Casper Libero '25

Journalism student, passionate about writing ever since I touched a book for the first time. Always interested in learning new things and - most of all - talking and writing about them. Contact me here: gabrielantualpa@gmail.com
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