During the 2012 edition, King Winter didn’t stand a chance. The film festival raised the ambient temperature with a retrospective of controversial Brazilian trash, pulp and avant-garde films all with the notorious red light district of Boca do Lixo as their birthplace.
Without exception, travel guides about Brazil warn travellers who want to visit Sao Paolo’s city centre to stay away from one neighbourhood in particular. People who understand some Portuguese probably don’t need that warning as Boca do Lixo means ‘mouth of garbage’. Nowadays, that ‘garbage’ consists of run-down hotels and their clientele, a surfeit of thrift shops and electronics stores. A few decades ago, Boca do Lixo was a notorious red light district; the place to go for everything illegal. During the 1970s and 1980s, alongside criminals and prostitutes, the neighbourhood had another, conspicuous category of inhabitants: filmmakers. Among other things, they produced B-films replete with explicit sex scenes and extreme violence.
All of this went against good taste, but also – primarily – against the establishment. Under the thumb of the junta, rebellious directors engaged in resistance by breaking every cinematic law in the book. The Brazilian temperament did what it had to, but was forbidden from doing. Filmmakers embraced ‘contaminated’ and ‘unsterilized’ images and texts, and bridged the gap between the avant-garde and low-brow entertainment. Part of the Signals programme, The Mouth of Garbage provides a colourful selection of unexpected masterpieces, shameless exploitation films and erotic productions. The range of films to be screened is very wide: from representatives of the Cinema Novo movement (the Brazilian version of neorealism and the Nouvelle Vague) to its opposite, the udigrudi, an underground movement also known as Cinema Marginal. Alongside remarkable B-films, so-called pornochachadas will be screened, which originally started out as lame sex comedies, but later transformed into considerably more explicit works. But some things are left to the imagination. Take, for example, Vereda tropical, the short film that is part of Contos eróticos and in which a university professor falls head over heels in love with a … watermelon. Naturally, sex consummates this love affair. The filmmaker does not require nudity or vulgar language to give viewers erotic stimulation every time some fruit or vegetables appear. Although this satire ostensibly contains no explicit political statements, the Brazilian censors were up in arms about the film. Too juicy for them in other words.
A programme on Boca do Lixo wouldn’t be complete without the legendary director/producer/writer/actor José Mojica Marins whose alter ego Coffin Joe is only familiar to cult film fans outside Brazil. Coffin Joe is a sinister criminal with a black cape, top hat and long nails who is almost as popular as Frankenstein is his homeland. To tide him over while he waited for funding for a new Coffin Joe film, Marins shot the commercial erotic comedy 24 horas de sexo explícito. Subsequently Marins reluctantly shot the sequel 48 Hours of Hallucinating Sex, in which he amusingly comments on his own contract work in between the obligatory sex scenes.
Many of the films selected for this tropical part of the Signals programme have seldom or never been seen by Western viewers. An excellent opportunity in other words to become acquainted with this totally original form of cinema. Although visiting the IFFR’s Boca do Lixo is less dangerous than entering the neighbourhood in real life, it is no less adventurous.
All films in Signals: The Mouth of Garbage in alphabetic order.
An overview of all selected films screened at the festival, in alphabetical order.
Browse through the programme of 2012 day by day, discover films and watch trailers.
An overview of the festival's programme sections: the Tiger Awards Competition, Bright Future, Spectrum and the themed Signals programmes.