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REVIEW: “Til SBØRNIA Do Us Part”

REVIEW: "Til SBØRNIA Do Us Part"

On Friday evening, December
5, ASIFA-Hollywood held a membership screening of Until SBØRNIA Takes Us Apart, the 2013 3-D Brazilian animated
currently making the international animation festival circuit and recently qualified for Oscar consideration.  This was actually a DreamWorks Artistic
Development event, held at the DreamWorks Animation Campanile Theater in
Glendale, CA, with the screening (in Portuguese subtitled in English) preceded
by a wine & cheese reception and followed by a Q&A with co-director
Otto Guerra and animation director Fabiano Pandolfi.

The film has been known in
America until now as Til SBØRNIA Do Us
Part
.  The official name and release
date are:

Até Que a Sbórnia Nos Separe, directed by Otto Guerra and Ennio Torresan Jr.  75 minutes. 
Released on December 6, 2013. 

SBØRNIA actually
premiered at the 41st Gramado Film Festival on August 14, 2013.  The Gramado Film Festival, in Gramado, Rio
Grande do Sul, Brazil, is the largest film festival in Brazil and one of the
largest in South America.  The movie won
both the Audience Award and the Festival’s Golden Kikito Award for Best Art
Direction.  It also won the Best
Brazilian Feature Film Award at the São Paulo International Film Festival
(October 25 – November 7), and has been a selection of many 2014 International
film festivals.  It was one of the five
features in competition at the 2014 Ottawa International Film Festival,
September 17 – 21. 

The OIAF program synopsis
is:  “Off the coast of
Brazil, the inhabitants of the island nation of Sbórnia have been living
peacefully segregated from the mainland for many years. When their massive wall
of volcanic rock falls in an unfortunate accident and tourists invade the
quaint community bringing money and technology, the Sbórnians are undecided on
whether to rebuild the wall. As a clash of cultures ensues, however, the fate
of the island may be sealed in their most attractive export: a powerfully
intoxicating drink they call Bizuwin.” 

A
longer and more accurate synopsis is that the fictional tiny nation of Sbórnia is
a lump of land in the ocean dominated by an extinct volcano, connected to the
(Brazilian) mainland by a narrow isthmus, that is isolated from the world by a
high volcanic rock wall built across the isthmus in the distant past.  The Sbórnians have developed a unique culture
that they are quite satisfied with.  When
an accident destroys the wall, the modern Sbórnians are divided between repairing
the wall, and leaving it down to finally join the rest of the world.  While they debate, wealthy capitalist Gonçalo Delacroix comes to Sbórnia with
his haughty wife Alba and his beautiful daughter Coclichot.  Gonçalo is determined to find some Sbórnian
product that he can make an additional fortune on.  He picks Bizuwin, a unique Sbórnian plant
that the locals turn into a spicy brew, and turns it into a massively popular
soft drink.  

The
events are seen through the eyes of a Sbórnian folk-music team, Pletskaya
(voiced by Nico Nicoliaewsky) and Kraunus (Nico Hique Gomez).  The
two, best friends until now, take the opposing sides of the split.  The more outgoing and romantic Pletskaya, the
accordionist, falls in love with Coclichot. 
He poses as a music professor and is hired to give Coclichot piano
lessons. They fall in love, but her mother is determined to marry her to a rich but ancient and
senile Marquis.  Meanwhile
the more conservative Kraunus, the violinist, joins the reactionary CHAOS
Society that wants to rebuild Sbórnia’s wall and throw out the 20th-century
machines and commercialization.  Pletskaya
and Coclichot try to elope together, while mother Alba uses the Delacroix
fortune and her brawny servants to continually separate them.  Kraunus attends CHAOS meetings that debate
endlessly and accomplish nothing. 

  Meanwhile, the Bizuwin soft drink becomes such a popular export
that Gonçalo exhausts the plant.  His
scientists discover that the plant itself is less important than Sbórnia’s
volcanic soil.  Gonçalo mines so much
soil that the volcano erupts anew, creating a spectacular climax in which
flowing lava destroys Sbórnia City, Pletskaya and Coclichot are separated,
Kraunus is vindicated, the isthmus sinks, and Sbórnia sails away as a mobile
island.

Até Que a Sbórnia Nos Separe
is an adaptation of the popular Brazilian musical play Tangos & Tragédias (Tangos
& Tragedies
), written by Nicoliaewsky & Hique Gomez as a 90-minute
performance in a small bar in 1984, and performed by them to larger and more
prestigious audiences ever since.  The
two have turned themselves into Pletskaya and Kraunus, inventing and fleshing
out Sbórnia, its music, and its exotic culture. 
The musical is full of satire that is visualized in the movie, such as
Machadobol (Axeball), the Sbórnian national sport that is a burlesque
exaggeration of Brazil’s love for violent soccer; and the CHAOS Society
meetings, a parody of early Communist and Socialist Party meetings that argued
endlessly over how to overthrow capitalism without ever doing anything.  When the animated movie was made, there was
no doubt that Nicoliaewsky and Hique Gomez would be the voices of Pletskaya and
Kraunus. 

Some interesting facts about SBØRNIA are that its working title was Fuga em Ré Menor para Kraunus e Pletskaya (Fugue in D Minor for Kraunus and Pletskaya).  The 3-D animated cel cartoon feature contains
over 500,000 drawings.  It is not
recommended for children under 10.  The
fictional game of Axeball has a manual of official rules.  Nicoliaewsky, who played Pletskaya for most
of his life and voiced his role in the movie, developed leukemia and died on
February 7, 2014, shortly after SBØRNIA
was released.

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