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The quotidian merges with the poetic in the films of the Brazilian director Clarissa Campolina (b. 1979), creating intense, documentary-style, impressionistic cinematic imagery. The plot is carried along these images – instead of the reverse. With her debut full-length film Girimunho (Swirl, 2011), she achieved international acclaim for the subtle artistry of her narrative technique. The director made this and a few other films with Helvécio Marins, who was a guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin program in 2014. Girimunho was awarded the Interfilm Prize at the Venice International Film Festival. As Michael Baute wrote in taz: “Today we encounter films that are so unique at the level of form and content, so striking and innovative, that it becomes difficult to capture them with the usual words we have at our disposal. (…) With a subtle philosophical tone, Girimunho presents a world captivating in its complexity and imbued with myth and song.” The film impressed critics from Hollywood to Madrid. Campolina’s short films also won awards, such as at festivals in Rotterdam, Brasilia or Rio de Janeiro.
To date, Campolina has created five short films and one feature film. She has also edited numerous films from other directors, including Nascente (2005) by Helvécio Marins. She studied visual arts and filmmaking in Brazil. She was among the five other filmmakers who founded TEIA ( in Belo Horizonte in 2001, a center for the audio-visual arts and film production. The group has already garnered over 50 prizes worldwide and their participants are often invited to present their films at important international festivals, such as those held in Venice, Locarno, Sundance, Toronto, San Sebastian, Rotterdam, and Karlovy Vary, among many others. In 2012 she was one of the founders of the production company Anavilhana.
Girimunho (2011) means “swirl.” The film, which takes place along the red banks of the São Francisco river, blurs dream-states with reality in movements reminiscent of the eponymous swirl. “Patience is very important,” remarks one of the characters. And patience is also a virtue shared by the filmmakers: it took six years to shoot the film. Many of the extraordinary amateur actors in Girimunho are related. The leading role (Bastú) is performed by the 81-year-old Maria Sebastian Martins Álvaro. After her husband dies, she becomes haunted by strange noises and visions, eventually leaving home in an attempt to get rid of these ghosts. She decides to bring her husband’s belongings to his brother. The road movie was honored in Havanna and won the Special Jury Prize and the Youth Jury Prize in Nantes.
Campolina’s short film Adormecidos / Asleep (2011) is a visual meditation on the poetry of everyday life: in the film, lights, lighted advertisements, and the people they depict all come to life at night. The film was presented at numerous festivals, such as the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival, and won a prize at the Eighth International Women’s Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro.
The short film Trecho / Passage (2006) uses an audio-visual diary to document a trip taken eight years ago. The film accompanies the character Libério during his peregrinations along the Brazilian highways. Together with her trusted filmmaking partner Marins, in the film Campolina employs a visual language that oscillates between gritty, experimental, and documentary styles to recount her protagonist’s travels and, along the way, reflect on the nature of the film’s own creation. Trecho was awarded the prize for best short film at the most important Brazilian film festival in Brasilia. The film premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival, where it was nominated for best short film.

Text: Maike Wetzel
Translation into English: Amy Pradell
Camera/editing: Uli Aumüller, Sebastian Rausch

Selected filmography: 2012 Odete (Short film, HD video, 16’) 2011 Girimunho / Der Wirbel (Feature film, 35 mm, 90‘) 2011 Adormecidos / Asleep (Short film, HD video, 7’) 2009 Notas Flanantes / Wandering Notes (Experimental film, HD video, 47’) 2006 Trecho / Passage (Short film, 35 mm, 16 ‚)
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