You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Amid ‘Aquarius’ Row, Brazil Submits ‘Little Secret’ for Oscar (EXCLUSIVE)

Brazil has selected David Schurmann’s three-part drama “Little Secret” to represent the country at the 89th Academy Awards, defying protests from a slew of filmmakers who withdrew their own films from contention after the appointment of film critic Marcus Petrucelli to Brazil’s foreign Oscar selection committee.

Petrucelli had made remarks on social media denouncing “Aquarius” filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho and his team for protesting against Brazil’s then interim government under Michel Temer while competing for the Palme d’Or in Cannes.

“Brazil has been going through a tumultuous time, as you know,” Schurmann said in an interview with Variety. “I absolutely loved ‘Aquarius’ but there was pressure to compare the movie to what is happening in the country … Unfortunately, picking the Oscars in Brazil has fallen into a political trench, which may hurt films like ours, as people are being pushed to choose not the right film to go to the Oscars, but the one with a political angle and agenda.”

He stressed that there were eight other members on the selection committee in addition to Petrucelli, “presided by director Bruno Barreto,” he said, “who has been to the Oscars and knows what works best at the Academy Awards.”

Inspired by the life of Schurmann’s adopted sister, “Little Secret,” made for $3 million, boasts world-class talent including “Central Station” scribe Marcos Bernstein, who co-penned the film with Victor Atherino; Peru’s Inti Briones, a Variety Cinematographer to Watch; and German art director Brigitte Broch, a production designer on “Amores Perros,” “21 Grams,” “Babel” and “Moulin Rouge!” (for which she won an Academy Award).

A record 17 Brazilian films were submitted for consideration this year.

“Shame is the least I can say about the team and the cast of ‘Aquarius,’” Petrucelli wrote on Facebook during the Cannes fest. He later posted: “So it was like this: A movie made with public money goes to Cannes to represent Brazil and does not win any awards. Therefore, the lie about the alleged coup d’etat did not do anything but ridicule Brazil.”

Given the derogatory remarks Petrucelli made about Mendonça’s politics, filmmakers like Anna Muylaert (“Don’t Call Me Son”), Aly Muritiba (“Para Minha Amada Morta”) and Gabriel Mascaro (“Neon Bull”) viewed it as a conflict of interest and an attempt to keep “Aquarius” from repping the country on Hollywood’s biggest night. To underscore support for “Aquarius,” they bowed out of the process. Actress Ingra Liberato and director Guilherme Fiúza Zenha, meanwhile, resigned from the selection committee.

Mendonça’s drama, starring Sonia Braga as a widow who defies efforts by developers to force her out of her apartment building, has won several awards on the festival circuit, including a Grand Jury Prize at the Amsterdam Film Festival.

Even if it’s out of the foreign film race, “Aquarius” still has a few moves it could make in the Oscar season. The film is set for release Stateside in October, making it eligible in other categories. A robust campaign for Braga could draw on any goodwill left in the wake of this controversy.

Distributor Diamond Films plans a September bow for “Little Secret” in Brazil, followed by a wider release in November.

Oct. 3 is the deadline to submit foreign-language Oscar entries. The nominations will be announced Jan. 24 and the awards will be held Feb. 26 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

More Film

  • Halloween

    Movies Featured More Female Protagonists in 2018, But It's Not All Good News (Study)

    “Halloween,” “A Star is Born,” and “Crazy Rich Asians” made headlines for featuring strong roles for women, but even though the number of female film protagonists hit a high in 2018, the movie industry still offered its juiciest parts to men. At a time when Hollywood is under pressure to become more inclusive and is [...]

  • Colin Farrell Dumbo

    Colin Farrell To Star in Andrew Haigh's BBC Two Thriller 'The North Water'

    Colin Farrell is set to star in “The North Water,” the BBC Two thriller which will be directed by critically acclaimed filmmaker Andrew Haigh (“Lean on Pete”). Based on Ian McGuire’s novel, the four-part series is being adapted by Haigh and produced by See-Saw Films for BBC Two. Set in the U.K. and in the [...]

  • New Fox Appoints Wayne Borg to

    New Fox Appoints Wayne Borg to Los Angeles Studio Role

    Wayne Borg, who has headed the Fox Studios Australia operations in Sydney for the past four years, has been appointed president and general manager of studios at New Fox. He will relocate from Australia to Los Angeles. Fox Studios Australia, which is to remain part of 21st Century Fox and will become part of Disney [...]

  • Lisa Borders Time's Up

    Time's Up President Lisa Borders Resigns

    Lisa Borders has resigned as president of Time’s Up, she and the organization announced on Monday. Borders is resigning due to family issues, she said in a statement. Time’s Up COO Rebecca Goldman will now serve as interim CEO. “As Time’s Up continues to grow, I am proud of the work I have done to [...]

  • Keira Knightly as "Rachael Morgan" in

    Film Review: Keira Knightley in 'The Aftermath'

    Less widely seen (and acclaimed) than it deserved to be, James Kent’s debut feature “Testament of Youth” was one of the great recent love-in-wartime dramas, translating the intimate romance and sprawling human tragedy of Vera Brittain’s WWI memoir with a grace and heft worthy of its David Lean allusions. Four years on, it’s not hard [...]

  • Inside Amazon's New Feature Film Strategy

    Amazon's New Film Strategy: Straight-to-Service Titles and Starry Sundance Buys

    It was close to midnight when Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke got the text. The company had failed in its quest to acquire “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” a body image dramedy that captivated Salke when she saw it at Sundance. A sales agent on the project messaged her to say that a competitor offered a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content