Roberto Santos was born in a working-class suburb of São Paulo in 1928. Started his cinema activities around 1952, in the first big studio built in Brazil, the Vera Cruz Studio. In 1956 makes his first movie, "O Grande Momento" ("The Great Momment"), the first neo- realistic movie made in Brazil. In 1965 Roberto Santos adapts a short novel by Guimarães Rosa, "A Hora e Vez de Augusto Matraga" ("Matraga"), the only successful adaptation to cinema of a work by Guimarães Rosa, the most important name in Brazilian literature in the 20th century. The movie goes to the Cannes Festival and it is well received. During the late 60s and 70s his career is marked by problems with the censorship. Nevertheless, he directs more 6 movies, among them the two experimental movies "Vozes do Medo" ("Voices of Fear") -- a movie with the structure of a magazine -- and "As Três Mortes de Solano" ("The Three Deaths of Solano"), an experiment where the same plot is told three times, first in the fantastic realm, then as a realistic plot, and finally as a circus pantomime. Meanwhile he works in TV and directing commercials. The success of an adaptation for TV of another Guimarães Rosa's story prompts him to write a screenplay for the marvelous short novel "Campo Geral", about a kid growing in the back-country of Brazil. After months of trouble to obtain the rights, the project is abandoned, and he decides to tackle another myth of Brazilian literature, 'Machado de Assis'. His last movie, "Quincas Borba", recreates Machado de Assis's fin-de-siècle universe in the troubled 80s. Roberto Santos died of a heart attack at the São Paulo airport, just after returning from the Festival of Gramado, where "Quincas Borba" was shown and heavily criticized by a click of critics.
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