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Narradores de Javé (2003)

The illiterate population of the small town of Javé charge Antônio Biá with the mission of writing the story of the town, in an attempt to stop the construction of a hydropower dam that ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
José Dumont ... Antônio Biá
... Zaqueu
Matheus Nachtergaele ... Souza (as Matheus Nachetergaele)
Rui Resende ... Vado
Gero Camilo ... Firmino
Luci Pereira ... Deodora / Mariardina
Nelson Dantas ... Vicentino
Alessandro Azevedo ... Daniel
Maurício Tizumba ... Samuel
Benê Silva ... Pai Cariá
... Galdério
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Roger Avanzi ... O Outro
Mário César Camargo ... Pai do Daniel
Maria Dalva Ladeia ... Dona Maria
Henrique Lisboa ... Cirilo


The illiterate population of the small town of Javé charge Antônio Biá with the mission of writing the story of the town, in an attempt to stop the construction of a hydropower dam that would destroy the village. They start remembering (or making up) great local personalities and events. Written by lukejoplin@infolink.com.br

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Release Date:

23 January 2004 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

Oi afigites  »

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Simple, efficient, unpretentious, hilarious: one of the most likable Brazilian films of the 2000s.
25 June 2006 | by See all my reviews

The God-forsaken tiny (fictional) village of Javé, in the back-land of the Brazilian state of Bahia, is going to be completely flooded for the construction of a hydro-power dam. There is a still chance to save it, though: the flooding may be canceled if it can be "scientifically" proved that Javé has an important historical/cultural heritage. The desperate villagers have no other option than to fetch the only literate person they know, good-for-nothing scoundrel Antônio Biá (José Dumont), who is charged with the mission of writing down the villagers' testimonies about Javé's "glorious past" in a big notebook. But the villagers' "imaginative" versions of the facts (?) collide; and anyway Biá couldn't be less interested in his task. Will he deliver the desperately needed "scientific proof" in time to save the village?

"Narradores de Javé" is a balm among recent Brazilian fictional cinema, which has generally been inferior to the level of Brazilian documentaries (with exceptions, naturally). It's not an exhibitionist, technically-driven flick, unfortunately so endemic among young Brazilian filmmakers. Nor does it mimic Brazilian TV soap opera aesthetics. Nor is it concerned with the "re-interpretation" of facts and figures of "the official History" (a strong and certainly important trend of Brazilian cinema since the astounding box-office and critical success of Carla Camurati's 1994 "Carlota Joaquina"). "Narradores..." has its own agenda: director Eliane Caffé (in her second feature film, five years after her impressive debut with "Kenoma") concocts this mix of comedy, chronicle and fantasy while making political criticism -- i.e. the universal fact that official history is only interested in V.I.P.s, while oral tradition and popular culture are never properly valued, studied or preserved -- but never sacrificing efficiency, good narrative and instant likability.

"Narradores..." had a small budget and was shot in 16mm in the tiny village of Gameleira and the jaw-dropping natural beauty of Lençóis (both in Bahia). The images were re- processed in post-production by D.P. Hugo Kovensky (who effectively conveys each flashback "version" with a different color palette) and electrifyingly edited by wunderkind Daniel Rezende (Oscar-nominated for "City of God"), Eliane Caffé aptly mixes in the cast the actual inhabitants of Gameleira and some great Brazilian character actors -- José Dumont having a field day in the main role (just a bit over the top here and there), with his side-splitting kung-fu fighting and cantankerous insults; Nelson Xavier, Rui Resende, Gero Camilo, Luci Pereira, Altair Lima and especially Nelson Dantas (in one of his last roles) earning some hearty laughs. Only Matheus Nachtergaele is tiresomely predictable (and looks awful in a ridiculous wig); fortunately, his role is very small. The film loses momentum now and then, as is expected in this sort of Rashomon-ish "conflicting versions" flick, but some of the episodes are hilarious (my favorite: the old twins' story).

This is mandatory viewing for everyone interested in recent quality Brazilian films. More importantly, it reestablishes a link to a certain genre of Brazilian cinema that had been lost since André Klotzel's great 1985 "A Marvada Carne", an obvious inspiration here. It's not revolutionary; it's rather an imaginative, charming, efficient, unpretentious film that unequivocally states that it's desirable and possible to assess this "other side" of Brazilian reality (away from the "big cities" and the "big favelas") in FICTION form, and yet reject the arrogant, void, exhibitionist "artsy" mannerisms and the TV-cloning trash that are a growing cancer in Brazilian fictional cinema of the 2000s. My vote: a solid 8 out of 10.

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