Oscars: Brazil Selects 'Little Secret' for Foreign-Language Category

Little Secret - David Schurmann _ Screenshot - H - 2016
Diamond Films Brasil

The selection committee's choice comes amidst controversy regarding favorite 'Aquarius.'

Brazil will submit David Schurmann's Little Secret for the foreign-language film category at the Oscars, G1 reported on Monday.

Based on a true story in the Schurmann family, the film depicts the arrival of David's sister Kat, an orphan who was adopted by his parents Vilfredo and Heloisa Schurmann, and died in 2006. The story had inspired a best-selling book of the same title, written by Heloisa.

"Little Secret is not just a personal or family project. It's the dream of a huge, talented and extremely professional crew. And that dream has been spreading to thousands of people. I'm so grateful to everyone who believes in Little Secret," the director posted on his Facebook page.

The choice of Little Secret is yet another episode in the controversy around Cannes entry Aquarius, a favorite for the Oscar bid, which was directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho (Neighboring Sounds) and stars Sonia Braga.

In August, several local directors, including Gabriel Mascaro (Neon Bull) and Anna Muylaert (Don't Call Me Son), withdrew their films from consideration after the Ministry of Culture invited journalist Marcos Petrucelli to the selection committee. Petrucelli had fervently and openly criticized Mendonca Filho after the Aquarius film crew held a protest at the pic's red-carpet premiere at Cannes, with signs depicting the impeachment of Brazil president Dilma Rousseff as a coup against a democratically elected government.

The same week local filmmakers declared their support of Aquarius and questioned the legitimacy of the committee, the jury itself lost several members who resigned. The committee was finally formed by Adriana Scorzelli Rattes, Bruno Barreto, Carla Camurati, George Torquato Firmeza, Luiz Alberto Rodrigues, Paulo de Tarso Basto Menelau, Silvia Maria Sachs Rabello and Sylvia Regina Bahiense.

By then, the presence of Petrucelli was regarded by many in the local film community as a strategy of the new government to boycott Aquarius' chances, including a 18+ rating that hurt the movie's distribution.

"It's quite possible that the decision of this committee is absolutely in tune with Brazil's political reality, that is, it's coherent and was already expected," Mendonca Filho wrote on his Facebook page about the choice of Little Secret.

"Aquarius gains repercussion in the U.S. because it has already been seen when it was screened in Cannes. Coincidentally, the film we've chosen hasn't been seen yet. But that doesn't mean anything. There are films that won an Oscar that never won in Cannes, and vice versa," said Petrucelli.

According to G1, Petrucelli also said the choice took into account the profile of the Academy jury that decides the nominations. "They are generally older people, so they are a bit more conservative," he said. "We've tried to find a film that has the features of a film 'by the book.'"