Today, Brazilian cinema is known for its history of variety—Glauber Rocha’s epic and highly aestheticized tales of the cangaçeiro (the peasantry in Northeastern Brazil) such as Black God, White Devil (1964) or Antonio das Mortes (1969); Nelson Pereira dos Santos’s reimagining of Italian neorealism in films such as Barren Lives (1963); the gems of the Tropicália movement, including Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s Macunaíma (1969); and, of course, more contemporary efforts that, with varied aesthetic conventions, touch upon a series of topics dealing with social inequality and racial discrimination: Héctor Babenco’s Pixote (1980), Walter Salles’s Central Station (1998), and Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund’s City of God (2003). Yet largely forgotten by international viewers is the so-called “Cinema do Lixo” (“cinema of garbage”) movement, which Rocha helped found and which lasted through the end of the sixties. But strategies of this subgenre can still be seen today.
Tired of the Tropicalist Orientalism of commercial cinema, Rocha wrote the famous manifesto “An Esthetic of Hunger,” pushing Brazilian and Latin American filmmakers toward different methods. Read Vicente Rodriguez-Ortega’s entry in Reverse Shot’s American All-Stars symposium.