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Bacurau 2019



As film industry reviewers, we say Bacurau is one of our non-favorite movies. Please VOTE!

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Set in a recent future in the Brazilian countryside, BACURAU follows matriarchal townsfolk, as they learn that their town has been erased from official maps.

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About Bacurau 💬

A few years from now...

Bacurau, a small village in the Brazilian sertão, mourns the loss of its matriarch, Carmelita (Lia de Itamaracá), who lived to be 94. Days later, its inhabitants notice that their community has vanished from most maps.

Suspenseful and mysterious, while not belonging to any genre, BACURAU is narrated by cult actor Udo Kier, who plays a Western documentarian.

  • Interview with Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonça Filho

Q: Bacurau, a made-up town that vanishes from the map, possesses a mythical aura. It is also a hub of resistance with leaders guiding a community that becomes a sanctuary for the righteous.

Kleber Mendonça Filho: Well, tricky aspect of the whole thing is to make this place interesting and cozy in a certain way, as a human settlement, isolated and quiet, but aware of what it is and where it is. And so small that it could conceivably suggest someone could try to play with it. it's intriguing to think about outsiders having the power to turn a region off the radar, maps or GPS. It's a display of power, it probably happens all the time... I once vanished from the system in a hotel, but no one asked me to leave. I was not registered anymore, but at the same time, my room seemed to be paid for, and occupied by someone the system did not know was me. Technically, I was not at the hotel, though I was, of course, even as I tried to explain I really was there. That was some kind of system error, but sometimes papers, bureaucracy, are used against someone. It is mostly about somebody flexing muscles and using power to destroy something. I remember the situation between Clara in Aquarius, and the young businessman, who keeps saying «this is a ghost building», to which she says «it isn't, I am here».

Q: ''Bacurau'' has several meanings in Portuguese, with a strong regional connotation. Why choose this as the name of the town and title of the film? What does it evoke for you?

Juliano Dornelles: Bacurau is the last chance to make it home. It is a nocturnal bird with excellent camouflage when it's on a branch. It's a short, punchy word that evokes the mystery of something that is there, in the darkness, alive but unseen, and that will only be noticed if it wants to be. The same is true of Bacurau the town: it is familiar with darkness; it knows how to lay low; in fact, it prefers not to be noticed. It says so on the highway sign. If you go there, go in peace.

Kleber Mendonça Filho: Ironically, in one draft of the script, the film opened with a crowd that included Teresa, running for the last bus, a.k.a. the bacurau. It's a local term that even appears on bus destination signs. It was an ambitious scene made up of teenage memories. The word brings to mind nighttime adventures, and now it is being pronounced with some difficulty by people from different parts of the world.

Q: The film is a genre movie combining multiple genres, including sci-fi, western, slasher, and the Brazilian cangaço1 genre, closely linked to the portrayal on-screen of the sertão and embodied here by Lunga, another mythical character, who flits here and there like an apparition.

Juliano Dornelles: I think Lunga is totally tied to this tradition of stories told to children. Lunga can be a monster as well as a hero. Such is the cangaceiro. That huge amount of rings in Lunga's hands and that extravagant style are not by chance. If you travel the dirt roads that even the GPS does not know, you will find unique images, such as a mud house between two mountains, and through the window of that house, you will notice that you are being observed. Who is the person who knocked on the window? Why did she hide? I think that's how a character like Lunga is born.

Kleber Mendonça Filho: Lunga is probably a remix of different elements brought by history and popular culture. He always had that mythical vibe to him. He lives holed up in his fortress, a dam overlooking a dried-out reservoir, and we know from the start he is a wanted man, possibly a criminal. He's also a popular, regional hero, and some kind of heir to the culture of 'cangaço', a gay man who sometimes goes by «she,». I thought he might have brought something back to who he is from witnessing a savage prison riot, an idea that's not in the film. It was extraordinary to encounter the body and face of Lunga in Silvero Pereira, an actor with a strong screen presence. As for the genre, we always saw Bacurau as a western. We were like kids whenever we shot with horses.

Q: The film is peppered with direct and indirect references to Brazilian history and society: American cultural domination, Coronelism, north-south rivalry, a problematic relationship with history. And you adopt a northeastern perspective.

Juliano Dornelles: It is essential that the point of view is northeastern, and that it is ours. This is at the root of the desire to make such a movie. The cinema still owes a lot of space to the Brazilian northeast and even more so in the way I believe we did in Bacurau, where everyone is poor but nobody is to be pitied.

Kleber Mendonça Filho: Well, yes, this reminds me of that expensive map in the opening of the film. That «planet» was an idea written into the script, but when we finally saw a rough draft of it in post-production, we realized how interesting it felt to zoom into a part of the world films don't really zoom into. It is always North America or Europe, it felt right. It also makes me think of Recife Frio, which has an Argentinian character, a news reporter, making observations (which are my own scripted observations) about my own city, where I was born and where I live, in a fake documentary which in the film is a real TV show. So, quite a number of projected images and ideas filtered through a very specific character working in a medium I do not particularly care for, the TV travel show. I had to find a tone which would fit a certain Argentinian identity, its humor, its own prejudices about Brazil and the way someone with no emotional attachment to Recife would talk about it, or show it. In BACURAU, there are a number of ideas which we tried to develop from our own observations on Brazil and the world, trying to make it very local, parochial even. But I have to say, our «northeastern perspective» does feel natural to us, after all, we are Brazilians from the northeast.

Q: With all these socio-historical considerations, the film explores notions of identity: Who are ''we''? Who is ''the other''? Systematically, lines are blurred: between right and wrong, local and foreign...

Kleber Mendonça Filho: At one point, I wondered if characters fitting archetypes (observer, hero, baddie, democratic leader, brutal fascist, victim) could be flipped with inherent contradictions, or if the very structure of this type of character prevented dramatic arcs that can just as easily be funny or scary. Is it acceptable for our hero Lunga to become a bloodthirsty killer? Is it okay for a fascist to have limited tolerance for the atrocities of the group? How does a certain type of Brazilian behave in an alien environment? Is Bacurau a remote corner of the world or an emotional sanctuary when seen from the sky by satellites and planes?

Q: The film not only resonates powerfully in Brazil's current political context, with historical wounds being reopened, but also raises specific issues, such as killer dams, health care, and gun control.

Juliano Dornelles: We were dealing with a sort of race against reality throughout the writing of the script. The news we read daily were (and still are) so absurd and dystopian that Bacurau was gaining more and more plausibility that at the beginning was not what mattered to us anymore. But it was happening and still happens: Brazil and the world are providing us with weekly «teasers» of the film.

Kleber Mendonça Filho: It's curious to note how Bacurau has been caught up by world history. The writing had been ongoing for years when political events took place that reflected the things we had written. There are aspects that are a part of life in Brazil and a challenge to an irredeemably violent society, such as treating books like a waste.

Interview by Tatiana Monassa

Bacurau Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Juliano Dornelles

Kleber Mendonça Filho

Writing Credits

Juliano Dornelles

Kleber Mendonça Filho


Lia de Itamaracá

Sônia Braga

Bárbara Colen

Udo Kier

Thomas Aquino

Silvero Pereira

Uirá dos Reis

Valmir do Côco

Thardelly Lima

Rubens Santos

Wilson Rabelo

Carlos Francisco

Luciana Souza

Black Jr.

Buda Lira

Fabiola Liper

Clebia Sousa

Edilson Silva

Eduarda Samara

Ingrid Trigueiro

Jamila Facury

Márcio Fecher

Val Junior

Rodger Rogério

Suzy Lopes

Zoraide Coleto

Danny Barbosa

Karine Teles

Antonio Saboia

Jonny Mars

Alli Willow

James Turpin

Julia Marie Peterson

Brian Townes

Charles Hodges

Chris Doubek

Music by

Mateus Alves

Tomaz Alves Souza

Cinematography by

Pedro Sotero

Genres: Action, Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi (Science Fiction), Thriller, Western

Countries: Brazil, France

Bacurau Official Trailer

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