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Neon Bull 2015

Neon Bull | Boi Neon

Neon Bull-Boi Neon

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NEON BULL explores the Vaquejada through the eyes of Iremar, a handsome cowboy who works the events. While he's not afraid to get his hands dirty, Iremar's real dream is to design exotic outfits for dancers.

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About the Neon Bull 💬

Wild, sensual and utterly transporting, Brazilian writer-director Gabriel Mascaro's second fiction feature unfolds within the world of the Vaquejada, a traditional exhibition sport in which cowboys try to pull bulls to the ground by their tails.

Iremar (Juliano Cazarré) works at the Vaquejadas, a rodeo in the northeast of Brazil where two men on horseback try to bring down a bull by grabbing its tail. It's dusty and backbreaking work, and Iremar spends his days covered in mud and feces, feeding, prepping and taking care of the bulls.

Home is the truck used to transport the animals from show to show, which he shares with his co-workers; Galega (Maeve Jinkings), an exotic dancer, the truck driver and mother to the young & spirited Cacá (Alyne Santana), and Zé (Carlos Pessoa), his rotund compadre in the bullpen. Together they form a makeshift but close-knit family.

But Brazil and the Northeast are changing and the region's booming clothing industry has stirred new ambitions in Iremar. Swinging in his hammock in the back of the truck, his head is filled with dreams of pattern cutting, sequins, and exquisite fabrics as he mentally assembles elaborate new fashion designs...


Amidst a recent wave of rapid economic growth, the film is an attempt to renovate the political and symbolic understanding of contemporary human relations in the Northeast of Brazil, where I grew up and have always lived.

The Vaquejada rodeo - one of the largest agro-business events in Brazil - seems to provide a fitting allegory of the recent transformations affecting the region. Through the lives of characters trying to keep pace with a new scale of desires and aspirations, I want to explore colors and textures that demonstrate the contradictions of consumption and expanding notions of identity and gender. I hope that by embracing the lives of this group of Vaqueiros, the cowhands who live on the road transporting bulls between Vaquejadas and working backstage at the event, NEON BULL throws new light on recent socio-economic and cultural changes.

The film is a study of the body, light and the transformation of the human landscape.

Gabriel Mascaro

  • Q&A WITH Gabriel Mascaro

Q: How did the idea to make a film about a cowhand who wants to work in fashion come about?

Gabriel Mascaro: The film takes place in a region where livestock and agricultural activities share space with a rapidly growing textile and clothing industry. During my research for the script, I came into contact with the world of the Vaqueiros (cowhands) who work backstage at the Vaquejada and I met one particular cowhand who worked with both livestock and textiles. I was fascinated by the way he ritualized the cleaning of the bulls' tails and then, a few hours later, would be sitting at a sewing machine for his second shift. This was the starting point for creating a fictional character who accumulates roles that combine force and delicacy, bravura and sensitivity, violence and endearment.

Q: What was the biggest challenge in making this film?

Gabriel Mascaro: The scenes were all quite long and therefore complex to shoot, and we had the added complication of bulls and horses in many of the sequences, yet much of the magic of the film occurs exactly when the animals take center stage. One of the central themes of the film was to question ideas of body hierarchy, be it animal or human, male or female. During the research for the script, spending time at the Vaquejadas, I noticed a fascinating ethic of the body that distinguished the way landowners and laborers related to each other and to the animals. Behind the stage, the cowhands clean the tail of the bull, dust it with chalk and release them onto the track. Two horsemen then chase after the bull. The farmhand, mounted on one horse, grabs the bull's tail and passes it over to the second rider, who is also the owner of the horses, and whose job it is to finish the task of pulling the bull to the ground, taking the glory of the fall. I realized that this ''sport'' is almost an allegory of Brazilian hierarchy, materializing itself in the bodies of these men and animals. The repetition of this same movement for hours and hours, it became almost a ritual, a recurring choreography. So I wanted to explore the presence of these human and animal bodies politically, revealing new contours, new impressions, new eruptions, showing that violence and pleasure inhabit the same body.

Q: Your characters don't conform to stereotypical depictions of male and female roles, in Brazil or elsewhere...

Gabriel Mascaro: What interests me is the expansion of gender representation, and by depicting the routine of the day-to-day, I try to ensure that any reshaping of gender roles is not sensationalized, but rather, normalized. I also wanted to go beyond the psychology of the characters, rooting the film in the physical presence of the characters in their natural surroundings and the daily choreography that has the potential to be a catalyzing poetic experience. The film doesn't necessarily follow one particular protagonist, rather it speculates on the impact of the experiences of each character within the group. It is about curious characters and intense experiences, and despite knowing little about who these people are, we find ourselves becoming deeply involved with their stories during the film. NEON BULL focuses on the microscopic conflicts that make up the everyday. As with all routines, life is cyclical, continues and then the film ends.

Neon Bull Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Gabriel Mascaro

Writing Credits

Gabriel Mascaro


Juliano Cazarré

Alyne Santana

Carlos Pessoa

Maeve Jinkings

Vinícius de Oliveira

Samya De Lavor

Josinaldo Alves

Abigail Pereira

Roberto Birindelli

Marcelo Caetano

Music by

Carlos Montenegro

Otavio Santos

Cinematography by

Diego García

Genre: Drama

Countries: Brazil, Uruguay, Netherlands

Neon Bull Official Trailer

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