Lula: The Film
Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 12th February, 2010
It’s rare for Presidents in the democratic world to have a film made out of a book about them while they are still in office: the genre smacks more of North Korea. Yet in cinemas around Brazil, the film ‘Lula: O Filho do Brasil’ (Lula: Brazil’s Son) is playing. Not to packed audiences, I have to say. There were precisely five people in the cinema where I watched it in Fortaleza yesterday afternoon. The original book, by Denise Paraná, had a certain success and actually Fábio Barreto’s celluloid version has much going for it: beautiful shots (very Hollywood), a strong story and some fine acting, not least by Glória Pires, who plays Luiz Inacio ‘Lula’ Da Silva’s mother. But the portrayal of Lula, particularly as a boy, is just too goody-goody to be true and actually diminishes, rather than inflates, the personality (as The Economist pointed out when the film first came out). Many people are boycotting it, because it seems like hagiography and Lula’s Workers Party is currently busy trying to promote his potential successor (Lula can’t stand for a third term himself). It’s a pity, because the film has many strong points and the underlying theme of the plight of desperate migrants who leave the impoverished North East to look for work in São Paulo state is part of the Brazilian dream (or nightmare). But I can understand why so many Brazilian film directors are furious that this prestige project received so much cash from private company sponsors – notably automobile companies, the petroleum industry and telecommunications firms – while they usually have to operate on a shoestring.