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Movie reveals tragedy, ambition of Brazil’s Lula

November 19th, 2009

lula10The premiere of a new movie about the early life of Brazil’s phenomenally popular president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, left an audience in tears — and some critics on Wednesday predicting Oscar glory.

“Lula, O Filho do Brasil” (Lula, Son of Brazil) was shown late Tuesday in a Brasilia film festival to a 1,300-seat theater dangerously packed well beyond capacity.

The picture reproduces the tragic beginnings of the man who went on to lead Latin America’s biggest nation, through his illiterate childhood when he and seven brothers survived poverty and the absence of a violent father, the loss of his wife and a child, and to his career as a union leader who defied Brazil’s military dictatorship.

The story, which features an unknown actor, Rui Ricardo Dias, playing the portly and gruff Lula, finishes before the period best known to the public, when the protagonist ascends to Brazil’s presidency.

Lula, who reportedly helped select the movie’s soundtrack, did not attend the screening, but his wife Marisa Leticia did.

Many spectators were left with moist eyes by the sympathetic depiction, directed by Fabio Barreto from a biography written by Denise Parana.

“It’s not a film about politics, but about an ordinary man, his family and his extraordinary ability to overcome difficulties,” Barreto said.

One member of the audience, Jo Rodrigues, wrote in O Globo newspaper that the movie was so moving it “promises to be nominated next year for an Oscar.”

Some others, though, were put off by film’s the emotional emphasis at the expense of a broader psychological portrait.

“I’m an admirer of Lula, but I think they pushed a lot of cliches about his life and didn’t emphasize enough his union and political side,” one, Raquel Oliveira, a government employee, told AFP.

Brazil’s opposition is also grumbling that the movie, which will get its nationwide release early next year, could act as a campaign boost for Lula’s chosen successor in October 2010 elections, chief minister Dilma Rousseff.

Education Minister Sergio Haddad acknowledged that concern after taking his seat to watch the premiere, but said it was misplaced.

“I hope this won’t be seen as electioneering. Lula is someone we’re all proud of, and this should be seen in that light,” he said.

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