Cinema in the Sand

When you think about Luciano Pavarotti, you probably don't think about Brazilian cinema. Unless, of course, you're Adriana Dutra, executive director of the Brazilian Film Festival of Miami, which is about to unspool its second season with a free April 4 beachfront showing of Sandra Werneck's romantic comedy Little Book of Love, which won first prize at last year's inaugural festival.

Inspired by the legendary tenor's popular 1995 concert on Miami Beach (literally on the beach), Dutra has arranged for a 20-by-40-foot screen, plus gargantuan surround-sound speakers, to be set up in the sand behind the now-defunct Cadillac Hotel at 39th Street and Collins Avenue. The Rio de Janeiro native is hoping to arrange a marriage between Brazil's outdoor-party tradition and this nation's love of cinema. The idea "is to create a showroom for Brazilian film in Miami," she explains. And to call attention to young filmmakers who represent what she terms "a new moment in Brazilian film." This year's festival offers a program of twelve features and ten shorts -- to be screened at the Colony Theater and Alliance Cinema -- as well as the first-time presentation of the Lente de Cristal (Crystal Lens), a juried award given out in traditional categories such as best director and best actress. Also, audiences will vote to determine a best of festival award for both shorts and feature-length entries.

Although Dutra likes the populist notion of enticing American filmgoers with a blockbuster-style screening, she resists the idea that the Brazilian film industry -- which produces approximately 100 films per year -- is going to mimic Hollywood. "With the money that Hollywood spends [on one movie], we could do at least five films and they would be better," she notes. "Hollywood films are just ready-made products that you put the people into. In Brazil, cinema is not like that. We talk about ideas."

To prove Dutra's point -- or perhaps to dispute it -- the festival will include panel discussions with twenty-odd Brazilian directors and actors. For film buffs, however, the real treat may be a chance to see works such as At Midnight with Glauber, a stream-of-consciousness tribute to renowned Brazilian producer Glauber Rocha.

And if Dutra is right, no one will miss that certain ship bearing Leonardo DiCaprio.

-- Robin Dougherty

The Brazilian Film Festival of Miami begins Saturday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m. on the sand at 39th Street and Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. Admission is free. Subsequent screenings take place April 6 through 12 at the Colony Theater ($7), and April 6 through 9 at the Alliance Cinema ($6). The closing ceremony and party begin at 9:30 p.m. April 12 at the Colony ($40). Films are presented in Portuguese with English subtitles. Panel discussions in English, Spanish, and Portuguese follow most screenings. Call 859-9467.

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Robin Dougherty