Cinephilia is a well-fed addiction here in São Paulo, and the Mostra International de Cinema reaching its 36th year is good proof of that. With screenings taking place across the city's cinemas, film buffs are guaranteed a brief but sweet full immersion in the wonderful world of the movies.
Created by the film critic Leon Cakoff when Brazil was still suffering under the military dictatorship, the festival has survived ups and downs over the years, the most recent being Cakoff's death in 2011, but continues to this day as one of the highlights in the city's cultural calendar.
In this year's lineup, look out for established filmmakers like Marco Bellocchio (Dormant Beauty), Abbas Kiarostami (Like Someone in Love) and Alain Resnais (You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet), as well as newer directing talent from Olivier Assayas (Something in the Air) and Cristian Mungiu (Beyond the Hills). Directors still making their mark get a look in too, such as Ben Affleck (Argo) and Sarah Polley (Take this Waltz).
Loyal festivalgoers will already be acquainted with Assayas – Demonlover, Clean and the Carlos TV mini-series have all been screened in past festivals. This year's festival will include his most recent film Après Mai (Something in the Air), which paints an unusual portrait of the early aftermath of the May 1968 Paris student riots.
Sarah Polley, an actress in films by Atom Egoyan and Terry Gilliam, directed the 2006 feature film Away From Her – a harrowing story about a marriage broken down by Alzheimer’s. At this year's Mostra, her comedic drama Take this Waltz lightens the tone with the story of a woman torn between her husband and an artist neighbour.
Another highlight is En Kongelig Affære (A Royal Affair), a period film directed by Danish Nikolaj Arcel about life at court in the reign of the mad King Christian VII of Denmark. The King's wife, Queen Caroline Mathilde has an affair with the royal physician – and Enlightenment supporter – Johann Struensee.
Adventurous cinephiles will delight at the chance to travel the world without leaving their seats, with a solid lineup of films from unknown directors and distant countries.
Read on for the best of the Brazilian films plus a look east with the retrospectives. See mostra.org for the full programme.
Brazilian film highlights
|'Chamada a Cobrar' a Brazilian film about a kidnapping ploy in Rio|
There’s always a special place reserved in the Mostra lineup for Brazilian filmmakers, both the well established names and the budding talents.
Anna Muylaert, director of Durval Discos (Durval Records) and É Proibido Fumar (Smoke Gets in your Eyes), will be showing Chamada a Cobrar (‘collect call’) in which an upper-middle class woman from São Paulo falls prey to a kidnapping con, and drives to Rio de Janeiro to supposedly rescue her daughter.
Marcelo Gomes, director of Cinema, Aspirinas e Urubus (Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures) takes us north to Recife with Era Uma Vez Eu, Verônica (Once Upon a Time Was I, Verônica) about a young med-school graduate going through an uncertain period of self-analysis.
For the chance to see São Paulo on the big screen, there are a number of options. Starting with a new release, the director Francisco Garcia presents Cores ('colours’), a black-and-white film in which three young friends wander the metropolis. The somewhat ghostly tone sparks a questioning of virtuality and consumption.
The other side of the coin can be seen in Sinfonia de um Homem Só (‘symphony of a single man’), by Cristiano Burlan. The documentary uses a musical arc to present the trajectory of a man from the countryside who comes to São Paulo to work as a construction labourer.
Continue in the concrete jungle with Super Nada (‘super nothing’) by Rubens Rewald, in which Guto, a street artist, aspiring actor, and diehard fan of a television comedian tries to get his career off the ground. Guto gets his big break when he meets his idol and gets the chance to audition for the show he hosts.
For those with an interest in older films, the programme includes two works that simply beg to be seen on the big screen. The first is the 1964 Cinema Novo classic Os Fuzis (The Guns) by Ruy Guerra, one of the finest films produced in Brazil. The other is Alma Corsária ('pirate soul’), one of the most expressive films by the late Carlos Reichenbach, in which São Paulo exerts a powerful presence.
|'In the Fog' by Sergei Loznitsa is one of the festival highlights|
This year, the Mostra looks east with a retrospective of the work of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky which, in addition to the director's films Solaris and Stalker, includes tributes to his work in documentaries such as Moskovskaya Elegiya (Moscow Elegy) by Aleksandr Sokurov and Une Journée d’Andrei Arsenevitch ('a day in the life of Andrei Arsenevitch') by Chris Marker.
Another noteworthy retrospective is that of Belarusian director Sergei Loznitsa. With several documentaries and two powerful feature films under his belt, the filmmaker portrays Russian life, past and present, through a filter of violence. We can see this in My Joy and the recent V Tumane (In the Fog), which won the Cannes 2012 FIPRESCI prize, awarded by the International Federation of Film Critics.
In his 2006 documentary Blockade the viewer accompanies black-and-white footage of the interminable Nazi siege of Leningrad with a soundtrack that buries the viewer there in the cold routine of a city under siege by barbarians.
The full programme, with venue details and times, will be published on 14 October at mostra.org.