From Brazilian director and screenwriter Sérgio Machado comes the drama “Heliopolis” (although in English-language territories, it’ll be released as “The Violin Teacher”).
The film stars Brazilian superstar Lázaro Ramos as Laerte, a talented violinist, who has to give music lessons to teenagers at Heliópolis’ public school after failing to be admitted to the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra. Despite the difficulties he faces in his new teaching position, the transforming power of music and the friendship arising between the professor and his students, open doors to a new world for him.
It’s kind of fresh to see a story like this with a black male lead – the inspirational teacher narrative. Typically, it’s a white teacher (male or female) at some high school in “da hood” having to win over his/her rambunctious mostly African American and Latino students, and in the process, learns something about himself/herself as they all grow together… we’ve seen that story told quite a bit on screen.
This one puts a fresher spin on it. And that it’s set in the world of classical music is even more welcomed. And that Brazil (a country whose overt, systemic racism against Afro-Brazilians persists and continues to be well-documented) is its backdrop, makes this film even more intriguing to this *outsider*.
Ramos’ name will hopefully be familiar to some of you, as he starred in a handful of Brazilian films covered on this blog over the years. He was once the man called Brazil’s Denzel Washington. His work includes the 2005 “O Homem que Copiava” (or “The Man Who Copied”), which won eight Brazilian Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Film, Best Supporting actor and Best Supporting Actress. There’s also 2005’s Brazilian film noir “Lower City” (“Cidade Baixa”), and 2014’s “O Grande Kilapy” (“The Great Kilapy”), among a few.
He’s also starring with his wife Taís Araújo in a groundbreaking Brazilian TV series titled “Mister Brau” which is giving Afro-Brazilians representations they rarely are afforded on screen locally.
Joining Lázaro Ramos in “The Violin Teacher” are Elzio Vieira, Kaique Jesus, Sandra Corveloni, and Fernanda de Freitas.
Director Machado penned the screenplay with Maria Adelaide Amaral, Marcelo Gomes, and Marta Nehring.
Produced by Brazil’s Gullane production company, one of the country’s most prominent, with Fox International Productions co-producing, “The Violin Teacher” is touring the international film festival circuit, with a next stop at the Cabourg Film Festival in France this month. It’s also set to be released theatrically in France, in August.
No USA pick-up at this time.
A trailer follows below, although it’s not English-subtitled: