Jean (17) is growing up in the elite district of Rio, with its private schools, drivers and housekeepers. While he tries to escape from his over-protective parents, they keep their approaching bankruptcy secret. This beautifully played coming-of-age film provides a clear picture of class differences and racism.
The big house of the title is indeed a very large one in a chic neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro, where Jean lives with his younger sister and parents. Naturally, there is also staff: a driver and two housekeepers. Jean is in his last year at secondary school, has to choose what to study and is busy with girls, his appearance and nightlife - as he should be. Above this well-organised and elitist world, dark clouds gather when it becomes apparent that his dad, without informing his children, has nearly used up all his money.
This first fiction feature by Fellipe Barbosa, who previously made it clear with the documentary Laura that he had an excellent eye for the customs of the New York upper class, provides a sharply drawn and authentic picture of growing up among the elite of Rio. He also reveals himself to be an excellent narrator who regards his characters both critically and lovingly, with subtle detail; worried parents, unconcerned maidservant, girlfriend from a different class, a sister no one listens to.
While looking at grand and topical themes such as class differences and racism, CASA GRANDE is nonetheless also very personal and partly autobiographical. The cast, acting naturally and comprising a well chosen mix of TV stars and non-professional actors, clearly are enjoying their work.
- Prix du Public La Dépêche du Midi, Prix FIPRESCI, Prix Découverte de la Critique - CinéLatino
- Audience Award for Best Feature Film - Rio IFF
- Best Editing - Janela IFF
- Thales Cavalcanti
- Marcello Novaes
- Suzana Pires
- Alice Melo
- Bruna Amaya
- Clarissa Pinheiro
- Fellipe Barbosa
- Karen Sztajnberg
- Pedro Sotero
- Karen Sztajnberg
- Nina Galanternick
- Patrick Laplan
- Victor Camelo
Casa Grande, or The Ballad of Poor Jean is my first narrative feature. It’s an extremely personal film, since it portrays the world in which I grew up and from which I tried to escape. My main intention was to tell a great story, focusing on characters and their relationships, set in a very specific and authentic universe. I worked with non-professional teenage actors alongside soap opera stars, whose image connects with the characters in the film. Besides the naturalism in the performances, I strived for a formal rigor, through the repetition of familiar shots, which gradually narrate the transformation of the big house. The project went through the Sundance screenwriters and directors lab in 2008, where it won the Annenberg Foundation Grant, and was a finalist of the NHK award.
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Fellipe Barbosa's strongly acted debut is a well-observed study of a wealthy Brazilian family's breakdown.
A confident and quietly promising feature debut.
I love the idea of cinema as an invitation to travel, as our first opening to the world. As if it started before cinema, from a desire to go abroad.
Fellipe Barbosa (1980) was born in Rio de Janeiro and completed his MFA in film at Columbia University, New York. His shorts, including the award-winning SALT KISS (2007), have screened at Sundance, Clermont-Ferrand and the New York Film Festival. In 2007, Fellipe was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. His feature documentary LAURA, winner of the Cinereach grant, won Best Documentary at the 2011 Hamptons Film Festival and played at Hot Docs, Visions du Réel and Bafici, among others. He attended the Sundance Screenwriter’s and Director’s Lab with his feature project CASA GRANDE, his fiction debut which premiered in the Hivos Tiger Awards Competition at the 2014 International Film Festival Rotterdam and screened at many other international festivals. The film has won 12 awards, including the FIPRESCI French Critics’ and Audience Awards in Toulouse, the Audience Award at the Rio Film Festival and the Critics’ Award at the São Paulo Film Festival. His second feature film is GABRIEL AND THE MOUNTAIN (2017), Visionary Prize, Gan Foundation Award at La Semaine de la Critique.