The latest collaboration between Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles (who have made two wonderful films together in Neighbouring Sounds and Aquarius, with the latter screening at the Tyneside Cinema in 2016) is a heady mixture of John Carpenter, Black Gold, White Devil and The Battle of Algiers, whilst retaining a spirit all of its own.
In a near future, dystopian science fiction version of Brazil, water and resources are scarce, and rural towns are operating like secluded outposts, hoarding whatever resources they can find and looking after their own. In the midst of these uncertain times Bacarau exists as a free hippy town, sustained by psychotropic drugs and populated by individualistic outsiders. But with a contentious funeral, an ongoing manhunt, corrupt politicians and spying government drones on the scene, tensions are rising. And that’s even before a group of rich tourists looking to hunt the locals for sport arrive, led by none other than cult favourite Udo Kier.
Loaded with references to Brazil’s dictatorial past, the country’s current political climate, and a long legacy of indigenous resistance to authoritarianism, this is cerebral slice of sort-of-science-fiction, with a sideline in post-colonial resistance. A deserving winner of the Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Bacurau is a film that defies expectations, categorisation, or easy answers, and is quite simply one of the freshest and most original cinematic visions of the year.