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The Persistence of Auteurism in Brazilian Cinema

Sayad, Cecilia (2011) The Persistence of Auteurism in Brazilian Cinema. In: Issues of Auteurism in Latin American Cinema - SCMS, 10-13 March 2011, Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:27522)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)


The emphasis on individual genius to the detriment of historical context that defined the politique des auteurs in 1950s France has traditionally emphasized the universal, transcendental qualities of film authorship. Nonetheless, auteurs have often stood for specific national cinemas along with their topical and political questions, especially in countries where a solid film industry is absent. Such has been the case for Brazil from the sixties to the present. Lacking a continuous and long-lasting generic tradition, the cinematic production of that country has largely been defined by auteur cinema.

The new generation of Brazilian filmmakers that followed the 1990s retomada (or rebirth) may shun the auteur label, especially when it evokes the diagnosing of a state of affairs—something that characterized the political cinema of the sixties. Yet the so-called new Brazilian cinema is still haunted by the risk of discontinuity that has long threatened their industry. This lack of stability attaches an element of uniqueness to each of the films that survive the winding road going from pre- to post-production—together with their directors, films are individuated as survivors, as heroes carrying the burden of keeping alive a cultural patrimony on the verge of extinction.

I argue that even though some of the attributes of auteurism (such as originality, self-expression, timelessness, authority and control) have been deemed outmoded, the bulk of Brazilian production is closer to an auteurist than to an industrial model. Even when sharing traits with genres such as the action film (as José Padilha’s Bus 174 and Elite Squad), movies are still seen as the embodiment of the worldviews of specific individuals, as attests the incessant questioning of Padilha’s politics in Elite Squad. Brazilian films are perceived as products of artistic genius, not of a faceless “system.” If the boom of new films includes an increasing number of popular comedies starred and directed by TV professionals, these genre movies are hardly mass-produced. It follows that, far from being banished from the Brazilian scenario, the auteur still holds a central position, notwithstanding the updating of its defining qualities and functions.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Speech)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Cecilia Sayad
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2011 16:04 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 12:38 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Sayad, Cecilia:
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