Luiz Bolognesi Education

Filmmakers plumb key concerns for contempo Brazil

In an initiative worthy of export, writer-director Lais Bodanzky (“Brainstorm”) is teaming with scribe-turned-helmer Luiz Bolognesi (“Rio 2096, a Story of Love and Fury”) to co-direct “Education.doc,” a five-part docu-series about good schools in poor areas.

Now shot, “Education.doc” will air on Globo News, the upscale round-the-clock news channel of TV Globo,  Latin America’s biggest TV conglom, marking one of Globo’s most sustained efforts to analyze what has gone so very wrong with Brazil’s education system.

“Education.doc” comes as “Like Our Parents,” Bodanzky’s fourth film, written by hysband Bolognesi, is moving towards production. Buriti Films, Bodanzky and Bolognesi’s label, and Gullane Filmes, Brazil’s most sought-after producer (“Amazonia,” “A Wolf at the Door”), will produce, continuing a long-term Buriti-Gullane alliance.

Brazil’s best-known distaff director, Bodanzky shot to fame from the get-go with her Marco Muller co-produced debut, 2001’s “Brainstorm,” which won seven Brazilian Film Academy Awards, including best film. Bodanzky’s screenwriter, Bolognesi, who co-penned Marco Bechis’ 2008 Venice competition player “Birdwatchers,” was catapulted to fame by his own directorial debut, 2013’s Gullane/Buriti-produced “Rio 2096.”

A multi-part animated fiction, Rio 2096” won the Annecy Animation Festival’s top Cristal Award, the animation world’s biggest international kudo. It is also among 19 toon feature submissions for Academy Award consideration.

After the mental-institution set “Brainstorm,” “The Ballroom,” capturing one night at a Sao Paulo oldsters dance club, plus coming of age tale “The Best Things in the World” which won 2010 Brazil Academy Awards for film, director and screenwriter (Bolognesi), “Parents” signals another change of subject for Bodansky. It’s also the first time she directly addresses the situation of women in Brazil and beyond, depicting a 40-year-old woman who’s “still both a daughter and a mother, has to be great at work but also take more care of her children than her husband,” as Bolognesi put it.

Bolognesi has completed a first draft; Bodanzky is now attacking a second, he added.

“Education.doc” addresses an urgent problem. “We have 42 million children in schools, two million teachers and 200,000 schools; 85% of them are public. In GDP, we now count as world’s seventh biggest economy. In Unesco 2011 education system evaluation, however, we ranked 88th,” Bolognesi said.

“What’s the result? Brazil is first in number of deaths of adolescents and young people who meet violent deaths.” That figure is 40,000 per year. Conducting extensive research, the cineastes discovered that 0.1% of schools in very poor areas notch up outstanding results, according to Prova Brazil, a scool proficiency board that evaluates standards in maths and Portuguese.

“We went to these schools and asked teachers, directors, student and families what the magic is,” Bolognesi said.

“Education.doc shot in Cocal dos Alves, a minute village in Piaui, one of Brazil’s poorest regions, which saw incredible results in maths.

The series also visited schools in Sobral, in Ceara, Foz de Iguaçu, in Brazil’s south, Ibitirama and Seabra in Bahia, and in Rio and Sao Paulo.

“Rich people send their children to private schools,” Bolognesi observed. So public education has for decades been overlooked.

“I’ve never learnt so much in so short a time. It is very difficult to sum up what makes a good school, but it is linked to love, exigency, capacity of leadership, listening and communicating well, also an open mind, emotional maturity and not fearing of change.”

“Education.doc” will also be distributed on Internet and DVD and see a book.

An HBO Latin America Originals co-production, “Rio 2096” is voiced by Selton Mello (“Four Days in September,” “The Clown,” “Trash”), Camila Pitanga (“I Would Receive the Worst News From Your Beautiful Lips”) and Rodrigo Santoro (“300,” “Jane Got a Gun”).Soon initiating its Oscar qualifying theatrical run in Los Angeles, it tells a down-the-centuries love story set against four decisive eras for Brazil: Colonization in 1500, slavery around 1800, the 1970s’ military dictatorship, and Rio in 2096.

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