Pondering the everyday and discovering the sublime, Cao Guimaraes' and Pablo Lobato's gentle tone poem of a film, "Accident," turns the idea of armchair travel upside down.

Pondering the everyday and discovering the sublime, Cao Guimaraes’ and Pablo Lobato’s gentle tone poem of a film, “Accident,” turns the idea of armchair travel upside down. Structured from a poem the filmmakers composed purely from the names of 20 cities and towns in Brazil’s southeast state of Minas Gerais, the pic captures impressions of nature and human activity. Cinema’s power to observe and transform is beautifully achieved; the film’s already successful fest travels should continue well into the new year, followed by local tube airings care of Brazil’s DocTV.

Each section, varying in length from less than a minute to more than five, begins with a mapped outline of the city as it relates to its geographic position in the state, accompanied by its name (including English translation). The images that follow are the result of Guimaraes and Lobato exploring each area for views and activities they find striking, often editing them together in a fascinating tapestry or, in some cases, in a thematic cycle. Former is typified by a montage of fragmented shots of a school being readied for a new day. Latter includes a series of telephoto shots of a hilly street, with pedestrians and vehicles of all shapes and sizes and conditions navigating the road. A procession honoring Jesus carrying the cross proves as touching as a scene inside a public bath is haunting in its watery beauty.

The patient viewer is rewarded with an unfolding view of an overlooked corner of Brazil, and though the film’s determined poetic sense — linking individual words with pictures — wouldn’t make it seem likely to play as a social critique, it does show many views of desperate poverty.

Title suggests the filmmakers’ wish to capture whatever happens in front of their ever-curious camera, even if that means such moments as a bucking-bull rodeo ride going badly out of control. Low-grade vid lensing lends to the immediacy, and the soundtrack is a marvelous assembly of various natural sounds and music cues.

Accident

Brazil

Production

A Cinco em Ponto and Teia presentation. (International sales: Cinco em Ponto, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.) Executive producers, Beto Magalhaes, Pablo Lobato. Directed, edited by Cao Guimaraes, Pablo Lobato.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Guimaraes, Lobato; music, O Grivo CQ; sound, Guimaraes, Lobato; sound designer, O Grivo; associate producers, Helvecio Marins Jr., Ricardo Sardenberg. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (World Cinema Documentary, competing), Jan. 21, 2007. (Also in Locarno, Rio, Rotterdam film festivals.) Running time: 72 MIN.

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