Since May, the movie Aquarius has been in the spotlight. It all started at France’s Cannes Film Festival. Director Kleber Mendonça Filho and part of the cast protested at the red carpet against what they considered as a coup in Brazil. Then, it received the highest possible rating classification regarding restriction to the public, with the under-18 crowd being banned from attending. Now, the critically acclaimed movie has been lost the contest to be Brazil’s representative at the Oscars selection for Best Foreign Language Film.
The chosen film was the family-oriented Little Secret, which tells the real-life story of an HIV-positive girl adopted by the Schurmanns – a Brazilian family famous for touring the world in their sailboat. Upon announcing the decision of the committee created by Brazil’s Ministry of Culture, film director Bruno Barreto said that they wanted to favor a film “in tune with the Academy’s criteria.”
Little Secret has not yet been released in Brazil, which fuelled the perception that Aquarius was punished by the political stands of its cast and crew. Two and a half weeks ago, the selecting committee for the Oscars was at the center of controversy, after the addition of a journalist who openly criticized Aquarius – despite admitting to not having seen it. Some movie critics, however, see Little Secret as indeed “more fit for Hollywood.” Another critic called it “one of the worst recent Brazilian movies, an ocean of cheap sentimentalism.” According to this critic, “the narrative is cheesy, the images are cheesy, the soundtrack is cheesy.”
Notwithstanding the loss at the race for the Oscars, the whole affair has been positive for Aquarius. In its first weekend in theaters, the movie was watched by 55,000 people – a respectable number for an art film in Brazil.
Brazil In The Oscars
Every year, countries send to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences their pre-selection. The official nominees will be announced in December.
No Brazilian movie has ever won cinema’s most prestigious statuette. We came close a few times, with four movies getting an Oscar nod for Best Foreign Language Film. In 2016, Brazil was represented by Alê Abreu’s Boy And The World for Best Animation. However, Pixar’s Inside Out ultimately won the Oscar.
Even Leonardo di Caprio won his first Oscar before Brazil.