The most important development in recent Brazilian Cinema is the emergence of a semi-documentary approach to the treatment of social and political themes in fictive films about Brazilian life today. The best film of this tendency - which runs counter to the dialectic/operatic approach of Glauber Rocha and the main Cinema Novo directors - is Jorge Bodanzky's Iracema, which shows the “new” Brazil of the Trans-Amazon Highway and the developing outback in images so graphic that the film has been banned from release in Brazil. Iracema (an anagram for America) is a 14-year-old Indian girl who leaves her village on the Amazon to find out what life is like in the big city (Belem). There she survives by prostitution, until she meets a truck driver on the Trans-Amazon Highway route who takes her on the road. For Iracema, the journey on the highway, symbolizing the “new” Brazil of fantastic wealth and mobility, leads straight back to the same misery and resignation. Both the young Indian girl (Edna de Cassia) and Paulo Cesar Pereio (as the truck driver) give extraordinary performances; and Bodanzky's color camerawork captures the beauty and squalor of Amazonia in riveting detail.
The director of ZDF's (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen/Second German Television Network) Das Kleine Fernsehspiel program, Eckart Stein, will introduce Iracema. Aside from developing and directing ZDF's activities in support of new directors and genuine “alternative filmmaking,” Eckart Stein acts as the specific ZDF executive producer for a number of Das Kleine Fernsehspiel films. Stein was responsible for the bold initiative which resulted in ZDF's support of Iracema and a second Brazilian production by Jorge Bodanzky, Wolf Gauer and Orlando Senna, Gitirana (1976), also banned in Brazil.
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