“O Pai da Rita” brings black people to the cinema – 05/25/2022 – Tom Farias

We are no more or less human – we are human, in fact. The normalization of existence – anything wrong with our life state – is what transforms and prepares us.

These are some of the thoughts that came to me after participating in the premiere of “O Pai da Rita”, a Brazilian film directed by veteran director Joel Zito Araújo, which has already been shown in the best cinemas in the country.

Joel Zito is the same wonderful director “Filhas do Vento”, the 2005 film, which brought together the real brilliant quartet of the Brazilian screens of the time – Ruth de Sousa, Taís Araújo, Maria Ceiça and Dani Ornellas and with a special participation of the actor Milton Gonsalves, singer and actress Thelma De Freitas.

In addition to “Filhas do Vento”, Joel Zito already has well-represented documentaries and feature films in his curriculum, such as “A Negação do Brasil”, laureate of É Tudo Verdade Festival, and “Meu Amigo Fela”, a kind of autobiography of Fila Coti -o Nigerian-born genius Olufila Olusegun Olodutun Ransom Kotei, who lived between 1938 and 1997.

The feature film, which premiered on May 19, has a strong cast, the famous Elton Grassa, the historic Lea Garcia, the great Wilson Rabelo – with a major role in the award-winning “Pacurao” of Kleber Mendonca Filho and Giuliano Dornelles that Sonia Braga co-stars in Cast – and Elisa Lucinda, the latter is not only a brilliant actress, but a multi artist, from stage, screens and word, she is a talented poet and novelist.

The film brings to the movie scene Jessica Barbosa, as Rita, the enigmatic daughter of unknown parents, and the very special engagement of Paolo Petti, an ace, who lends Joel Zito’s film a touch of fun with his refinement. And the interpretive virtuosity, which marked his path, above all, on television.

I left the cinema, at the session in São Paulo, and brought the film with me. How much does the film — which seeks to tell the story of someone who wants to know who their real father is — stirs up in us.

The story tells of the adventure of Roque e Pudim, two samba musicians from the Bexiga neighborhood of São Paulo, associated with the traditional Vai-Vai samba school. The two fall in love with a beautiful dancer from the school and the whole plot returns with the appearance of the daughter of the same name as her mother, who appears looking for her father which she does not. I don’t know exactly who he is, whether it’s the bohemian Bodim – Elton Grassa, who stole the show in some moments of the movie – or the serious and talented composer Rocky – played by actor Wilson Rabelo.

“O Pai da Rita,” written by De Moretti, is not an action movie, it’s an emotional one. From the perspective of emotional processes it must be seen. The state of the film can be observed throughout the country. In Brazil, in 2020 and 2021, more than 320,000 children were registered without a father’s name – in all, only 160,407 children registered a mother in the first cited year and 167,339 in the following year. It is a misfortune that the film presents in an artistic and light way.

Joel Zito’s film, by the way, between memories and struggles, perhaps unconsciously, brings this theme into a new order of the day. Freely inspired by the song “A Rita” by composer Chico Buarque, who also went down in film history as a putative father, but does not appear on the color screen, it’s a comedy-drama, “but it’s a light and happy film as the director said in the opening speech of the film’s session.

I also want to highlight in the film another great reference in the film projects of Joel Zito, which is the presence of a strong black cast. Lazaro Ramos, in the direction of “Medida Provisoria” – still in theaters – has regained control over this potential, neglected by Brazilian cinema and major production companies, of which Joel Zito is a pioneer – not only with the now classic “Filhas do Vento”, but In important documentaries like ‘Raça’, it was produced in partnership with Megan Mylan, an American documentary filmmaker who won an Academy Award in the region in 2009.

In “O Pai da Rita” he repeats the dose, bringing great actors and actresses, as well as good scenes provided with translation by Jéssica Barbosa – actress of revelation at the Black Film Festival in 2009. She is joined by Nathália Ernesto and the director himself who appears in one of the scenes.

It is necessary to watch “O Pai da Rita” with interest and interest. The movie starts well, with the samba of the old duo Roque and Pudim, both old guards of Bexiga’s traditional samba school, slowing down in the middle, and regaining the initial tone at the end. Paulo Petti, who plays the intrusive bartender Sauro, is a great choice, but Lea Garcia is still on the podium for the great ladies of national cinema.

In the end what is the result? Nothing here, and I hope you watch the movie to find out. But the character played by Jessica Barbosa, Rita in the film, makes a true saga in the search for her father’s identity, causing friends of over two decades – Rock and Bodim – to finally find each other strange. It is funny and makes you laugh.

The screenwriter and director found a great solution to finish the film, which is one of his strengths, which brings a certain frustration to those who love ready-made solutions and perfect scenes. This is not the case. In other words, “O Pai da Rita” is not funny, but a thoughtful act, despite everything. Nearly two hours into a movie session makes us go home with the movie in our heads.

This, without a doubt, was one of the great advantages of director Joel Zito Araujo.

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