Hotline: 90170160
Promoting film as art and entertainment since 1958

World Cinema Series : Macunaima (M18)

What With its over-the-top, farcical acting, its frequent nudity and its hang-loose, anarchic vibe, "Macunaíma", Joaquim Pedro de Andrade's 1969 Brazilian picaresque, survives as a gloriously demented artifact of its time. Connoisseurs might detect a touch of Felliniesque rococo, but this magical-realist mock-epic commingles more comfortably in less exalted company, with the films of John Waters and Russ Meyers, perhaps, or with lost episodes of "The Monkees."
When 13 January 2009 (Tuesday), 7.30pm
Where National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre
93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897

Free admission but members only -- flash your membership card to go in. You may bring up to 2 guests if you hold a SFS Reel membership card. Non-members may sign up online or at the door -- we will issue membership on the spot.

Tickets for the public: $8 / $6.40 concession.

Counter Sales: Stamford Visitor Services Counter: 10am – 7.30pm;
Canning Visitor Services Counter: 10am – 5pm.
Online Booking: (click on Online Booking tab at the bottom of the webpage).
Ticketing Information: 6332 3659.
General Enquiries: 6332 5642.
Patrons are advised that a valid identity pass is required for all screenings.


Director: Joaquim Pedro de Andrade

1969 / Brazil / 105min / 35mm / M18 (Nudity) / In Portuguese with English subtitles


With its over-the-top, farcical acting, its frequent nudity and its hang-loose, anarchic vibe, Macunaíma, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade's 1969 Brazilian picaresque, survives as a gloriously demented artefact of its time. But underneath it all, the comedy, adapted from a 1928 novel by Mário de Andrade (no relation to the director), is a meditation on the riddles of Brazilian identity and the agonies of Brazilian politics. 

In the first scene, the playful hero, Macunaíma, drops fully grown from his mother's belly onto the dirt floor of a hut in the Amazon. There he is raised alongside two brothers, one black and one white. Eventually, Macunaíma, who is born black, turns white himself, in a spring he encounters. The hero then finds his way to São Paolo, where he dresses in marvellously (or hideously) bright clothes and takes up with a sexy, urban guerilla before returning home in the Amazon. In the course of his odyssey, he encounters witches and giants, episodes that turn Macunaíma into a raucous and hallucinatory fairy tale. The film’s infectious craziness that stays in your mind like a novelty pop song that, after a while, starts to sound like a classic. 

Macunaíma will be presented on a RESTORED 35mm print. 

Biography of Joaquim Pedro de Andrade

“I can only make films in Brazil and only about Brazil. Only Brazil interests me.” - Joaquim Pedro de Andrade

Joaquim Pedro de Andrade was born in Rio de Janeiro, on 25 May. His father was the founder of Rio de Janeiro’s Institute for National Artistic and Historical Heritage; some of Brazil’s greatest 20th century artists were family friends. De Andrade dropped out of university, where he studied physics, to embark on a film career.

De Andrade’s feature debut, Garrincha, Joy of the People (1965), is a documentary portrait of a celebrated soccer player who owes his wondrous abilities to a peculiar physiology – one of his legs is bent inward and the other curves outward. It is reputedly one of the greatest films about soccer ever made. With his next project, The Priest and the Girl (1962), de Andrade hews closer to naturalism, in this stark and muted Emile Zola-like pastoral tale. It is shot in black and white, based more on montage than mise en scène, and it’s certainly his most classically lyrical work and most controlled narrative.

From Macunaíma (1969) onward, montage took a back seat to mise-en-scène as de Andrade’s film language loosened up, imbued with a deft documentary sense of the here and now, and open to wild tonal and stylistic shifts. In November 1965, de Andrade and seven other filmmakers and artists, including Glauber Rocha, were jailed after organising a protest against the military regime that had seized power the previous year. That experience doubtless informed The Conspirators (1972), a historical-political reconstruction of a coup d'Ètat by a group of Brazilian military officers, poets and intellectuals aiming to overthrow the Portuguese Crown and establish a Brazilian Independent Republic in 1789. This is followed by Conjugal Warfare (1975), an intense and feverish chronicle of petit bourgeois fear and loathing.

De Andrade’s final feature was arguably his greatest. The Brazilwood Man (1982) is a bemused, sexy, and positively ecstatic take on the life, work, and ideas of Oswald de Andrade (no relation to the director), author of two cornerstones of Brazilian modernism, the 1924 “Manifesto of Brazilwood Poetry” and the 1928 “Cannibalist Manifesto”.

Born in 1932, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade died in 1988 in Rio de Janeiro, his hometown and birthplace.

De Andrade was far from being a prolific artist. He produced in average one film every five years and died prematurely. To watch his body of work as a whole offers a vertiginous insight into the multiple aspects of Brazilianity through his at once lyrical and caustic eye.