In 1915, in Quixadá in the country of the Northeast of Brazil, the poor drover Chico Bento (Jurandir de Oliveira) of the Aroeiras farm is fired by the owner Dona Maroca due to the long drought in the area. He decides to walk to Fortaleza with his wife Cordolina (Soia Lira); their five children; a donkey; and their dog Limpa-Trilho in a journey of starvation, death and despair. In his tragic journey, Chico loses his teenager daughter Mocinha that prefers to stay in Castro working in the kitchen of a guest-house; Josias that is poisoned by wild manioc that he ate; and Pedro that vanishes in Acarape with a group of migrants, ending in a miserable concentration camp of migrants. Meanwhile, the educated and ahead of time "bookworm" Conceição (Karina Barum) also leaves her farm in Quixadá with her grandmother Inácia (Maria Fernanda) moving to Fortaleza. Conceição has a secret crush on her cousin Vicente (Juan Alba) that also loves her but their lack of communication and difference of culture keeps unattainable love in a platonic level. Conceição meets Chico and the rest of his family in the camp and helps him to travel to São Paulo. She also believes in the rumors that Vicente is having a love affair with the daughter of right-arm Zé Bernardo, the mulatto Zefinha, and decides to stay single and adopt her grandson and Chico's son Manuel a.k.a. Duquinha.
"O Quinze" is the first and most popular novel of the famous Brazilian writer Rachel de Queiroz that was published in 1930. The hopeless and bitter story does not have any hidden message but simply discloses the arid reality of the migrants of the countryside of the Northeast of Brazil the same way Nelson Pereira dos Santos did in 1963 with his classic "Vidas Secas" based on the novel of Graciliano Ramos. The director Jurandir de Oliveira made a film so realistic that recalls the Italian Neo-Realism of Roberto Rossellini or a documentary. The performances are stunning and despite awarded in the "Cine Ceará National Cinema Festiva" and "Gramado Film Festival", this movie is a little gem and unknown masterpiece of the Brazilian Cinema (there are only five votes in IMDb). Just as an additional reference, in the drought of 1915, Brazilian President Venceslau Brás built weirs and dams through the Instituto de Obras Contra as Secas (IOCS) (free translation: Institute of Constructions against the Droughts). With the fear of loots in the cities, he also built Concentration Camps in Ceará to isolate the starved population of migrants from the countryside. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "O Quinze" ("The Fifteen")
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