Blog September 29, 2020
Brasil Summerfest 2020: Documentaries on Gilberto Gil, João Gilberto, Tropicalia

It’s not quite summer anymore, but given that since spring has just arrived in Brazil, we’ll call Brasil Summerfest kicking off on Sept. 29 a fair compromise. And though we can’t gather in person to see some of the hottest up-and-comers, Brasil Summerfest, Cinema Tropical and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University have lined up a trio of documentaries about some of the best-beloved established musicians in the world. American audiences will be able to rent the first two documentaries for $7 each for the next week, and the third documentary will be available for free starting Oct. 5.

The subject of the first documentary is our good friend Gilberto Gil. Directed by Lula Buarque de Hollanda and Leticia Monte, Gilberto Gil Anthology Vol. 1 is the first of a three-part series on Gil’s life, covering his work from 1968 through '87, years that wind through his early Tropicalia work, arrest, imprisonment, exile and return—and of course, an era when he wrote some of the best-loved songs in Brazil's canon. And don’t worry—even though the trailer isn’t subtitled, the documentary is.

The second documentary is about German writer Marc Fisher’s obsessive search to find João Gilberto, perhaps the only Brazilian musician who looms larger than Gilberto Gil. Fisher talks to Gilberto’s family and friends and, uh, barber, looking to penetrate the bossa nova pioneer’s late-life self-imposed isolation in Rio.

Finally, we have a documentary directed by the legendary DJ Beco Dranoff, who in typical Dranoffian fashion, has a new generation of artists interpreting Brazilian classic songs. Beyond Ipanema: Brazilian Waves in Global Music promises interviews and performances by David Byrne, Devendra Banhart, M.I.A., Os Mutantes, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, Seu Jorge, Thievery Corporation, Bebel Gilberto, CSS, Creed Taylor, and more, in service of exploring Brazilian music's international impact and enduring appeal.

So really, they’re all can’t-miss and have scheduled Q&As with the directors, if that's your thing. It isn't summer and it isn't normal, but it's a stellar lineup.

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