Brazil director hits out at ‘coup’

Aquarius director Kleber Mendonca Filho with the film’s lead actress, Sonia Braga  AFP PHOTO

Aquarius director Kleber Mendonca Filho with the film’s lead actress, Sonia Braga AFP PHOTO

CANNES: The Brazilian director of the movie Aquarius, in competition at Cannes, hit out at his country’s new leaders Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) for “extinguishing” the culture ministry and for their stance on women.

Kleber Mendonca Filho said the political turmoil which had led to ousting of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff had caused a “dramatic divide” in the country.

“It is terrible—it is bringing out the worst on both sides and particularly from the right, with notions of fascism, people in congress saying that women shouldn’t work because they get pregnant and shocking ideas like that,” he said.

Brazilian interim president Michel Temer angered many by appointing an all-white, all-male government last week.

Filho also slammed Temer’s move to merge the education and culture ministries, which has stirred anger among artists in Brazil.

“It’s the wrong month to extinguish the ministry of culture because a film made with public funds—with very honest funds—is representing Brazil at the Cannes film festival in competition.”

Temer, 75, has inherited a country stuck in its deepest recession in decades and has resorted to stiff measures to cut costs.

He cut the cabinet to 23 ministers from 32 and has promised to slash 5,000 civil service jobs.

“This coup is setting us years back,” said renowned Brazilian filmmaker Rui Guerra, 84, at a protest in Brazil this week against the merging of the ministries.

The anger of Brazilian artists at the ousting of Rousseff was laid out on the red carpet for all to see at the Cannes premiere of “Aquarius” when the stars staged a protest.

The actors held up sheets of paper with the slogans “Stop the coup in Brazil” and “Brazil is not a democracy anymore” after turning to face photographers before the premiere of “Aquarius”.

One opened his tuxedo shirt to reveal a T-shirt showing an image of Super Dilma.

Rousseff tweeted to the cast after their protest, saying “Thank you for your support!”

Filho told a press conference that the idea for the protest had come from a large group of Brazilian filmmakers and producers who were present at the world’s top film festival.

“It was basically to let people know that yeah, there is something going on in Brazil right now and the narrative that comes from Brazilian media is completely biased,” said Filho.

“Cannes has many cameras and powerful long lenses and it worked beautifully.”

The film’s lead actress, Kiss of the Spider Woman star Sonia Braga, said: “It is very important also to understand that Brazil is divided now, and this hadn’t happened since” the end of the country’s dictatorship in 1985.

Aquarius, which has been well-received by critics, is one of 21 films in the running for the Palme d’Or at Cannes.



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