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Star medical examiner Olavo Bilac has been called to Brasilia, the administrative capital of Brazil, where a scandal is erupting. A beautiful young congressional aide named Eugenia Camara has been brutally murdered, or so it seems. Her filmmaker boyfriend is already languishing in jail, and all signs point to him being the killer. All that remains is for the identity of the dead body to be confirmed, at which point things really get interesting in Cinema Novo pioneer Nelson Pereira dos Santos' meditation on governmental corruption. DNA tests on Eugenia's body have thus far proved inconclusive, leading Dr. Bilac to wonder if the body is a fake. The esteemed examiner begins to do some investigative work, and soon discovers that Eugenia was privy to congressional secrets involving political money laundering and the unauthorized tampering with budget figures. Dr. Bilac is well aware that this knowledge would have made the "dead" woman a target of some important politicians, so, much to the consternation of almost everyone in Brasilia, he further delays his confirmation of the body's identity. While Bilac insists that his duty is to science, he is still mourning the loss of wife Laura, and as a result, he experiences hallucinatory episodes that give Brasilia 18% a vaguely dreamlike feel. As the film's end draws near, we are made privy to a tangled web of corruption that seemingly touches everyone, from politicians to doctors to chauffeurs to prostitutes.
Director's Statement Collapse
Like many people of my generation, I was deeply touched by President Juscelino Kubitschek's project to build the new Brazilian capital. It happened in the second half of the 1950's, when I was shooting propaganda documentaries all over the country, including one on the construction of Brasilia. Since then, I have participated several times in the life of the city. In 1965, I accepted an invitation from the the University of Brasilia teach filmmaking in the first graduate school of cinema in Brazil. At that time I was thinking of moving to to Brasilia and living there forever, but the military dictatorship (1964-1984) closed down the University. Nevertheless, I made a short documentary with the students based on linguistic research about the Brazilian way of Portuguese language pronunciation. After the academic experience, I used to go to Brasilia for two purposes: to show my films to the official censor(bad memories) or to participate in the Festival de Brasilia do Cinema Brasileiro, which was founded in 1965 at the University of Brasília,. It was the most popular and democratic film festival, at which Brazilian filmmakers could get together and create provocative manifestos (good memories). I returned to Brasilia in 1993 to shoot The Third Bank of the River (my 16th fictional feature) and to teach again. Meanwhile, I worked on the creation of a production center for the Cultural Department in Brasilia. The first idea for Brasilia 18% was born from the memory of the time I spent there. The comparison to the present day was a difficult one. In the early years, Brasilia had 200,000 inhabitants, and it was projected that its population would be at most ten times greater by the year 2000. Well, eight years before that mark, the population was already inflated to two-and-a-half million, which threatened the idealistic urban project created by Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer. But my deception was not for that reason only. Rather, it was the political behavior of our representatives and members of the government administration, perhaps a heritage of the dictatorship, that provoked my aesthetic reflection as citizen and filmmaker. By the way, the human universe presented in the film is mostly composed of the people attached to political power circles. The "normal" people are absent, maybe waiting for another filmmaker's look.
Film Information Collapse
[BRASI] | 2006 | 97 | Narrative Feature
Directed by: Nelson Pereira dos Santos and Ishai Setton
Foreign Title: (Brasilia 18%)
About the Director(s)Collapse
Born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1928, Nelson Pereira dos Santos studied law at the University of São Paulo and practiced journalism and teaching, but his true love was cinema. After graduating, he traveled to Paris, where he enrolled at the IDHEC film school. Returning to Brazil, he made two shorts in São Paolo, then moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he became an assistant director. His first feature as a director, Rio 40 Degrees (1955), contained many of the characteristics that would typify his work and propel him to a leading position in Cinema Novo, Brazil's vibrant New Cinema movement of the 1960's and 1970's.