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By Patricia Maresch, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Documentary film lovers are filling up cinemas during the 16th edition of the É Tudo Verdade (It’s All True) Documentary Festival. The festival takes place in various venues in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro between March 31 and April 10th, and features 92 titles from 29 countries, including eighteen unreleased Brazilian documentaries.

Scene from Aterro do Flamengo, competing film by director Alessandra Bergamaschi, courtesy of É Tudo Verdade
Scene from Aterro do Flamengo, competing film by director Alessandra Bergamaschi, courtesy of É Tudo Verdade.

Opening the festival in Rio de Janeiro were two productions from Swedish director Stig Björkman, honoring Sweden’s greatest film artist Ingmar Bergman: “… but Film is My Mistress” and the short film “Pictures Playground”.

Both films provide vivid portraits of Bergman with commentaries from prominent filmmakers for whom Bergman is an important influence – such as Woody Allen, Bernardo Bertolucci, Martin Scorsese, Lars von Trier and Bergman’s leading lady Liv Ullmann.

The Brazilian Retrospective this year is “Poetry Is Truth” in which fifteen documentary filmmakers capture the poetry of great national poets in images. “Poets always aim at the essence,” says Amir Labaki, founder and director of É Tudo Verdade. “When their high standards are shared by documentary filmmakers, great films are born.”

Seven Brazilian films will compete for the Best Documentary Award. One of which is the documentary “Aterro do Flamengo” (Flamengo Park). Director Alessandra Bergamaschi captured with a static camera, in real time, scenes from visitors of the urban park in Rio, revealing the routine of a big city.

The winner in the Best Documentary Award category will take home a statuette designed by Carlito Carvalhosa, and an impressive R$110,000 (US$67,000). Labaki takes great pride in the selection of his festival. “It’s exciting to note that in this year’s harvest, the documentary brings us stories from personal lives into the public sphere.”

É Tudo Verdade is considered the best showcase for documentaries in Brazil where a lot of exciting and interesting documentary films are produced. Last year, 40 percent of all film releases where documentary films, although far fewer theatrically than fiction films.

There have been recent international Brazilian triumphs, like “Lixo Extraórdinario” (Waste Land) which received a 2011 Oscar Nomination. Young Brazilians, in particular seem very excited by the documentaries emerging from their worlds as they pack many of the screenings at the festival.

Scene from Life In A Day by Kevin MacDonald, courtesy of É Tudo Verdade Film Festival
Scene from Life In A Day by Kevin MacDonald, courtesy of É Tudo Verdade Film Festival.

Part of the Special Program are new works by 81-year-old Frederick Wiseman, one of America’s greatest documentary film makers, and Oscar-winning documentary director Kevin MacDonald. Wiseman’s work is pure cinema verité fly-on-the-wall movie-making. In “Boxing Gym”, Wiseman fixes his camera on a gym in Austin, Texas.

MacDonald, the Scottish director famed for “The Last King of Scotland” developed an entirely different approach of documentary filmmaking. He invited the YouTube community to spend a few moments filming their day on the 24th of July in 2010. He received some 5,000 hours of footage in 80,000 individual clips, which were edited all together and sculpted into an hour and a half feature film called “Life In A Day”.

For a complete schedule, and a list of participating cinemas: www.itsalltrue.com.br
Admission is free.

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