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Motel Destino: the Brazilian thriller indicated for Palm d’Or in Cannes

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Motel Destino, the new film by director Karim Aïnouz marked his return to the Brazilian film scene, and ran for the Palme d’Or at the 2024 edition of the Cannes International Film Festival. The “insatiable, thirsty and sensual” plot takes place on the coast of Ceará, in a fictional city called “Pontal” and features a cast, production and screenwriter from the same state. In addition to the director himself, who is from Fortaleza.

The movie tells the story of Heraldo, a young man who has already served time in a social educational unit, and, to get rid of a debt, attempts to rob a bank – but ends up failing. Therefore, he tries to hide in a roadside motel, where he meets the character Dayana, who is involved in an abusive marriage with the owner of the motel.

The social aspects portrayed in the film reflect a Brazilian reality full of hard paths, passion and tension, and bring all the fellings experienced in the country during the post-pandemic of Covid-19. In addition, it brings a lot of highlights to particularities of northeastern culture. The characters, played by actors from Ceará, deal with a crushing reality which often requires a riot, the choice of symbolic or physical violence, as the only possible way out of that life. In particular, the reality of Dayana is a lot similar to that of several other Brazilian woman who finds themselves in a toxic relationship.

The nomination of a work with such rich characteristics upon the Brazilian perspective, of it’s own reality, is a gift to the national audiovisual industry, and a work to transform public policies in Northeast. This type of recognition strengthens this industry and provides visibility to a part of the population who is so overlooked by their governments. It also provides the time and support that the art of cinema demands.

This is Karim’s sixth visit to Cannes and like other works he has done, this one is no different from his remarkable style. With a passionate style, under the unique hot weather of Ceará, with a lot of sweat and vibrancy, telling stories of “people who are hungry to exist”. His cinematografy is built by strong colors, characters who meditate
between their free will and fate in particular dramas, even highlighting universal dilemmas. But mainly, the director focuses on representing people who are always overlooked by History, highlighting those who are not used to receiving this type of attention.

This work is a great pride motive to Brazilians who, through art, manage to reach elites from all over the world, even the most important film festival, by problematizing issues that are frequently portrayed in our country, such as social disparities and violence against women.

Although the masterpiece didn’t win the Palm d’Or, it is important to remember that, achieving this place of honor by competing in such a prestigious festival of the film industry, it is already a great step forward for national cinema. It is such a gift to have a Brazilian artwork presented to so many important people of that industry, and to have them applauding our actors, director, and producers that worked very hard to present to the world their wonderful movie.


The article above was edited by Giulia El Houssami.

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Mariana Funchal

Casper Libero '27

My name is Mariana Funchal, I'm 18 years old and I'm a Journalism student at Fundação Cásper Líbero. My main interests are in culture, art, history, music and especially languages and literature.