After winning the Golden Bear at Berlin for Elite Squad, the Brazilian director returns to the documentary form by shooting with hand-held cameras in black and white. Padilha, who shot Bus 174 (2002) based on a real-life hijacking of a bus in Rio, now turns his camera towards the remote areas of Brazil's northeast where people still struggle against hunger.
Known for celebrating the world's cinema in all its diversity and highlighting the most recent Brazilian productions, the festival will screen 454 films from 75 countries. The event will open with Marco Bechis' Birdwatchers and close with a concert by Maria de Medeiros, the Portuguese actress, director and singer who will pay tribute to Brazilian music, interpreting songs from Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil.
'We will open with Birdwatchers because it was the most talked about movie at the Venice Film Festival but it didn't get any award,'' says Leon Cakoff, director of Sao Paulo Film Festival. 'It is also an example of a positive globalisation: directed by a Chilean-Italian filmmaker, this co-production between Brazil and Italy deals with a subject matter that captures the world's interest: the devastation of the forests and the Indians loss of identity.'' Marco Bechis will be in Sao Paulo to present the film.
Others guests include the Puerto Rican Benicio Del Toro, who will present Steven Soderbergh's Che, and the Argentinian filmmaker Pablo Trapero, who will give a MasterClass and present his latest film, Leonera. The German director Wim Wenders is also coming to the largest city in Brazil to present The Palermo Shooting, to receive the Humanity Prize at this 32nd edition of the festival and also to present his 15 favourite films, including François Truffaut's La Sirène du Mississipi (1969), Jean-Luc Godard's Le Petit Soldat (1963) and Yasujiro Ozu's An Autumn Afternoon (1962) and The End of Summer (1961).
In the competition, only films by new directors (with three features at most to their credit) are eligible for the Bandeira Paulista award. Among the contenders are Emily Atef's Das Fremde in Mir (Germany), Sergey Dvortsevoy's Tulpan (Germany, Switzerland, Kazakstan, Russia and Poland), Mark Forstmann's Monkey Puzzle (Australia), Rafael Conde's Fronteira (Brazil) and Brian Petersen's Coyote (USA).
Ingmar Bergman, who would have turned 90 years old this year, and Japan's Kihachi Okamoto will be honored with retrospectives. Okamoto's selection will pay tribute to the 100 years of Japanese immigration to Brazil, celebrated in 2008. There will also be a special presentation of a restored version of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972).
As per Sao Paulo Film Festival tradition, classics of the silent era will be screened with live orchestral accompaniment, namely Paul Leni's The Man Who Laughs (1928) and Julien Duvivier's Poil de Carotte (1925), accompanied by Octuor de France Orchestra.