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Death of a dream in Once There Was Brasilia

Samba if sidestepped in thoughtful sci-fi take on modern Brazilian politics

30 July, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

Wellington Abreu in Once There Was Brasilia

Directed by Adirley Queirós
Certificate: 12a

READ the foreign news pages – Brazil is not a happy place. A far right populist at the helm, the Amazon on fire, booming Covid-ridden slums and deeply entrenched social dysfunction, the nation whose once globally projected image was of Samba, carnivals and beautiful footballers doing beautiful things has turned dark.

This space junk sci-fi offers a back-door introduction to modern Brazilian politics.

Director Queirós uses the story of a crash-landed inter-galactic time-travelling voyager, sent to assassinate president Juscelino Kubitschek as he declares the new capital Brasilia complete, to consider the death of the Brazilian Modernist dream.

Instead of landing in 1960, agent WA4 (Wellington Abreu) finds himself stranded in Celandia, a rundown ghetto, in 2016 as President Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment.

The film looks superb, as if sculptor Joe Rush of the Mutoid Waste Company and surely the originator of the steam punk aesthetic was the set designer.

It is not only great to look at but has a thoughtful theme at its heart.


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