At the age of 27, Nelson Pereira dos Santos revolutionized the Brazilian cinema with his 1955 debut feature, Rio, 40 graus (Rio, 100 Degrees), a portrait of Rio de Janeiro that set a neorealist aesthetic to a loose and looping samba beat. Almost 60 years later, Pereira remains a vital creative force, still passionately engaged with the people, music, and politics of his country, as exemplified by his 2012 documentary A Música segundo Tom Jobim (The Music According to Antonio Carlos Jobim). In the interim, Pereira became, with Glauber Rocha and Ruy Guerra, one of the central figures in the Brazilian movement known as Cinema Novo, which combined the exuberant stylistics of the French New Wave with Brazilian popular culture and postcolonialist political thought. From the spare and agonizing Vidas secas (Barren Lives) of 1963 through the swirling sensuality and black humor of 1973’s Como era gostoso o meu Francês (How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman), Pereira has explored a wide range of perspectives on his country’s troubled past and turbulent present, while his warm humanism points to a bright future. He stands today as the doyen of Latin American directors, and MoMA is pleased to welcome him to New York for this condensed overview of his remarkable career.
Organized by Dave Kehr, Adjunct Curator, and Ron Magliozzi, Associate Curator, Department of Film.