ANTONIA: a review from IFFR 2007

Editor, Europe; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)


"Antonia" tells the story of four girlfriends who have grown up together in the slums of São Paulo. Their biggest joy in life is singing together and although they already perform as background singers for a group, they dream of a chance to start their own R&B band. That opportunity arrives and is taken but the pressures of their surroundings start to take a toll on their friendship and, consequently, the band.

Peter Martin's review can be found in here.

Brazilian director Tata Tamaral brings her newest film to Rotterdam and this time it is partly funded by the festival itself: "Antonia" is one of the movies made with help from the Hubert Bals Fund. This fund is a permanent fixture of IFFR and has an annual budget of 1.2 million Euro. To help filmmakers all over the world with realising their films and documentaries this amount is spread over a large amount of projects, as even the largest possible donation is only 30.000 Euro (although it is possible to get different donations for different parts of the moviemaking process on the same film). So did they get value for money this time?
In short: yes, as Antonia is a solid and warm little film and I left the cinema as a satisfied customer.

In long: Tata Tamaral spent several years in São Paulo to win the trust of the neighbourhood she portrays. This seems to have worked, because the movie looks like a documentary rather than a fictional story. Most of the people on display in "Antonia" are not professional actors but people who actually live there. A large amount of the film plays out in the same street, an after a while you really get the feeling you know the place. São Paulo is a very three-dimensional city, and this section of it is sprawled over a group of hills. Tata Tamaral uses this to good advantage and there is some beautiful cinematography on display here. Evenings especially are filmed in very warm colors. Together with the revealing outfits everyone wears this brings with it a pleasant sensation like you're in a hot tropical country, no mean feat considering Rotterdam has rather inhospitable weather this time of year.

Storywise the movie isn't so hot though, and it takes quite some time before you start to know the individual members of the group.

But once you're there the movie just flows on at a gentle pace, showing the setbacks each of the singers suffer through and how they overcome them (or not).
The four leading ladies Negra Li, Leilah Moreno, Quelynah and MC Cindy are actual R&B singers from Brasil and really have great voices. This is not directly apparent as their rap songs are.. eh... rapped, but you get to hear them singing later on and they are very good indeed, not only as a group but also individually. This definitely helps as there is quite a large amount of music in it, showing its importance to this particular community although it never turns into a musical. And thankfully these four can also act.

Even though I'm not particularly fond of rap, R&B and hip-hop I really enjoyed myself. The story doesn't break new ground but it also avoids most cliches, like the fact that the groups manic manager (who is good for laughs throughout the movie) is NOT ripping them off. It did take me to another country for 90 minutes and I liked it, so again it's recommended. I've yet to see a real dud at this year's festival, so far I've been lucky enough to miss them.

Screen Anarchy logo
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here to report it, or see our DMCA policy.

More about Antonia

Around the Internet