By Sibel Tinar, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – The annual awards ceremony for the Grande Prêmio do Cinema Brasileiro, or the Brazilian Oscars as it is also known, was held in Teatro João Caetano in Rio de Janeiro last week. The independent drama É Proibido Fumar emerged victorious from the event, winning five of the six categories in which it was nominated, including Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and the coveted Best Feature Film.
The film, which translates as “No Smoking” though there is as yet no official English title, is a sincere, lighthearted tale of a disillusioned woman whose only stable relationship is with the cigarettes she chain-smokes, and her escalating interest in a new neighbor who turns her life around in unexpected ways. The film is written and directed by Anna Muylaert, who previously won the Grande Prêmio as the screenwriter of O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias (The Year My Parents Went on Vacation) in 2008.
The documentary about the Carioca samba and bossa nova singer Wilson Simonal, entitled Simonal – Ninguém Sabe o Duro que Dei, was the other big winner of the night, sweeping awards in all three categories (Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Editing, and Best Sound) it was nominated in; while American Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds received the award for Best Foreign Film.
Other films that stood out with multiple nominations this year were the romantic comedies Se Eu Fosse Você 2 (If I Were You 2), the box-office champion and sequel to 2006’s Se Eu Fosse Você, and Divã, which brought the Best Actor and Best Actress nods to their leads Tony Ramos and Lília Cabral, respectively.
Of the films that were shown as early favorites to receive the top awards, the historical drama Tempos de Paz (Peacetime) won Best Adapted Screenplay along with Best Costume Design, while the coming-of-age story À Deriva (Adrift), which received accolades at last year’s Cannes Film Festival for its outstanding look, was awarded the Best Cinematography prize.
The popular comedy A Mulher Invisível (The Invisible Woman), on the other hand, was nominated for nine awards, yet came away from the ceremony empty-handed.
This year also marked the first time that separate prizes in the Best Feature Film and Best Foreign Film categories were awarded by popular vote. Audiences were encouraged to select their favorite films online right up until the last minutes of the ceremony, and the popular-vote awards went to audience favorites Se Eu Fosse Você 2, and James Cameron’s Avatar.
The Grande Prêmio do Cinema Brasileiro is an annual event organized by the Academia Brasileira de Cinema (Brazilian Cinema Academy) since the year 2000, to recognize and reward excellence in Brazilian films. Similar to the Oscars and different to the majority of other awards, the voting is made by the members of the Academy, who are recognized professionals in their respective fields and may only cast votes in that field, with the exception of Best Film awards, for which every member gets a vote.