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The film, which topped the Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes, chronicles the story of two women struggling with repression and prejudice in 1950s-era Brazil and was described as a “sensual melodrama about spirited women in a machista culture” in The Hollywood Reporter‘s review.
“It’s unbelievable, I’m jumping with joy. But we need to be patient, because this is just the start of the road,” Ainouz told O Globo.
Based on the novel by Martha Batalha and inspired by Ainouz’s own childhood memories about his single mother’s hardships in mid-century Rio, Invisible Life stars Carol Duarte and renowned local actress Fernanda Montenegro, a previous Oscar nominee for best actress in Walter Salles’ Central Station (1998), the last Brazilian movie to be nominated in the category previously known as best foreign-language film.
“This proves Brazilian film culture, at a time like this, credits us as artists and citizens,” Monetenegro said to O Globo in a reference to the ongoing clash between the local film community and Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who has threatened to dismantle the country’s film institute Ancine and impose a moral “filter” to projects applying for state funding.
Invisible Life was selected from a shortlist of 11 features by a special commission formed by film professionals, including director Anna Muylaert (Don’t Call Me Son), who said the choice wasn’t a unanimous decision and that Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Cannes entry Bacurau was a close runner-up. According to Muylaert, the decision was based on the members’ personal taste and the film’s chances with the Academy, and she mentioned the names of Montenegro and the Ainouz’s producer Rodrigo Teixiera (Call Me by Your Name) as factors.
“Divided or not, the commission wishes The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao the best, and hopes it makes a great campaign and gets the much-desired nomination,” said Muylaert.
The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao is Brazil’s 47th submission in an Oscar category in which it has yet to win, although the country’s history at the Academy Awards includes a handful of nominations in major categories, such as Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund’s City of God, which earned five noms, including for best director, in 2004.
The 92nd Academy Awards are due to take place Feb. 9, 2020.
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