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Impressive amateur actors, evocative, impressionistic images and a great contemplative power of observation lend a documentary-like quality to Helvécio Marins Jr.’s feature film debut Girimunho. The award-winning director was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 1973 and still lives there today. He has already received over fifty international prizes for his work.
Ever since his first feature film Girimunho (Swirl, 2011), which he co-directed with Clarissa Campolina, Marins has gained worldwide acclaim as a director. The film received the Interfilm Award at the Venice Film Festival and in the German newspaper taz, Michael Baute wrote, “Sometimes one encounters films where the independence of form and content is so remarkable and new that it is difficult to talk about them with conventional phrases.” He continues, “Girimunho shows, with an inconspicuously philosophical tone, a world pervaded by myths and songs that possesses an enchanting complexity.” The film has garnered enthusiastic reviews from Hollywood all the way to Madrid. Marins’s short films have also received international prizes at the festivals in Locarno and Mannheim-Heidelberg; they have been shown at important international festivals such as the Biennale, Toronto and San Sebastian; museums like the Centre Georges Pompidou and the MoMA had them in their programs; and various television channels around the world have broadcast them. Marins received a grant from the Hubert Bals Fund and is now working on his second feature film. The director earned his Master’s degree in film from the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro.
“Patience is very important,” says one of the characters in Girimunho (2011). And patience is precisely what the members of the film crew themselves displayed during the shooting, which lasted six years. Many of the extraordinary amateur actors in Girimunho are blood relatives. Felipe Bragança, a DAAD Artists-in-Berlin guest in 2013, wrote the script. The main character (Bastú) is played by 81-year-old Maria Sebastian Martins Álvaro. After the death of her husband, Bastú is haunted by strange noises and apparitions. In order to ward off the ghastly occurrences, she leaves, deciding to bring her husband’s personal belongings to his brother. The film’s title, Girimunho, or swirl, describes the movement in which the film connects dream with reality in the red clay along the shore of the São Francisco River. After the road movie was awarded the Interfilm Award in Venice, it also received prizes in Nantes (Special Jury Prize) and Havana.
Marins needs only a man and a boat – and not a word of dialogue – to tell a parable about freedom in his short film Nascente (2005). The sea will ultimately swallow up the rowboat, but the old man sits back with a smile and watches it happen. The film won prizes in Barcelona, Vilnius and Mannheim-Heidelberg, and was selected to compete at festivals in Rotterdam, Rome and Sydney, among others.
Then there is Nem Marche nem Chouta (2009), a documentary-like study of a market stand with raw meat. A young boy stands behind the carcasses covered in flies and gazes into the camera. Then he goes away. The camera pans to a gnawed cow skull on the floor and fades to black. But this seemingly incidental cinematographic moment lingers in the mind of the viewers.

Text: Maike Wetzel
English translation: Jocelyn Polen

Films: 2012 O Canto do Rocha (short film, beta digital, 20’) 2011 Girimunho – Co-director: Clarissa Campolina (feature film, 35 mm, 90’) 2009 Nem Marche nem Chouta (short film, video, 7’) 2006 Trecho (short film, 35 mm, 18’) 2005 Nascente (short film, 35 mm, 17’) 2003 2 Homens (short film, 16 mm, 5’) 2003 Alma Nua (video installation, video, 6’)
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