Travessias Brazilian Film Festival 2020


See the full festival with a pass!

    $35 NWFF Members
    $50 General

** Co-presented with the Center for Brazilian Studies at UW, Show Brazil and Brazil Center! **

This festival of contemporary Brazilian films gives marginalized voices the mic in discussions of race, sexuality, and governance. The 2020 fest runs Nov. 20–29, with short films about the ebbs and flows of life, identity, and belonging and fierce features on topics from student civic engagement to unearthing family legacies to the ties that bind (and break) community.

Curated by scholar of Brazilian cinema Emanuella Leite and with support from Professor and Director of the Center for Brazilian Studies Jonathan Warren, Travessias Brazilian Film Festival takes place via Northwest Film Forum’s virtual cinema Nov. 20–29, 2020.

A cinema in transit…

Cinema is an art that has survived the arrival of new communication platforms. It is the art of reinvention. In a pandemic context where people are experiencing – in a challenging way – isolation and alternative forms of interaction, movie theaters have adapted through virtual environments.

While we have to postpone the unique experience of watching a Brazilian film on the big screen in a cozy dark room at Northwest Film Forum, as was possible in our last edition of the Travessias Brazilian Film Festival, we can find another type of pleasure and contemplation in watching the new generation of Brazilian films in a bold virtual landscape.

For Travessias during this difficult year, we invite the global audience to immerse themselves in Brazilian films that center marginalized voices, celebrating intriguing protagonists who refuse to be silenced.

– Emanuella Leite & Jonathan Warren

Um cinema em trânsito…

O cinema é uma arte que tem sobrevivido à chegada de novas plataformas de comunicação. É a arte da reinvenção. Em um contexto pandêmico, em que as pessoas tem experimentado – de modo desafiador – o isolamento e formas alternativas de interação, as salas de cinema têm resistido exatamente por meio dos ambientes virtuais.

Enquanto temos que adiar a experiência única de assistir a um filme brasileiro em uma grande tela e em uma aconchegante sala escura do Northwest Film Forum, como foi possível na nossa edição passada do Travessias Brazilian Film Festival, podemos encontrar outro tipo de prazer e contemplação assistindo a nova geração de filmes brasileiros em uma ousada paisagem virtual.

Para o Travessias deste ano tão difícil, convidamos o público global a mergulhar em filmes brasileiros que trazem especialmente o protagonismo de minorias, visitando personagens intrigantes que recusam toda forma de silenciamento.

– Emanuella Rodrigues de Moraes e Jonathan Warren

Feature Films:

In the Heart of the World (No Coração do Mundo)

On the outskirts of Contagem, the scattered lives and side hustles of neighborhood residents collide in this complex portrait of blood relations and interpersonal bonds. Marcos seeks a way out of his routine of break-ins and petty crimes by taking on a risky opportunity that promises to solve all of his problems. As he enlists the help of his colleague Selma and girlfriend Ana to execute the plan, tensions begin to swell. Told through sweeping, intimate takes, with enrapturing sound design, In the Heart of the World entrusts its female protagonists with the power of propulsion, their personal histories and allegiances guiding the current of the film.

Your Turn (Espero Tua (Re)volta)

When Brazil’s economic and social crisis deepened in the last decade, students protested and occupied hundreds of schools, demanding better public education and the end of austerity measures. The feature documentary Your Turn (Espero Tua (Re)volta) depicts the Brazilian student movement from the protests of 2013 until the election of the new president, Jair Bolsonaro, in 2018. Inspired by the collective voice of the movement itself, the documentary is narrated by three high school students, who represent central points of their struggle. The narrators’ jostling for space and time exposes the movement’s conflicts and demonstrates its complexity.

The Cotton Wool War (Guerra de Algodão)

Dora arrives in Brazil to spend the summer with her grandmother, María, a complete stranger to her. But the connection between the teenager, raised in Germany, and her mother’s mother isn’t happening. María is cold, distant and peculiar, to say the least. Dora soon finds out that this is not just a visit; her mother wants them to stay in Brazil permanently. Frustrated with the news, Dora tries all sorts of ways to buy a plane ticket back to Europe. During her endeavors, she starts getting to know the city, makes new friends and—most importantly—uncovers the secrets behind her grandmother’s unique story and personality: that María was one of the pioneers of Brazilian cinema, an actress and performer ahead of her time. Dora keeps digging into Maria’s feminist background as she becomes closer to grandmother in this beautifully contained coming-of-age story.

Description courtesy of Manuel Betancourt, Remezcla.

Short Film Programs:


  • White Zombies (João Antonio Santucci, Brazil, 2019, 13 min) White Zombies starts from the myth of the zombie (or undead) to present an experimental and autobiographical documentary about a black man inserted in a brave society.
  • Sample (Ana Júlia Travia, Brazil, 2018, 15 min) The classic love story in which a young woman meets a young man, with the exception that they are Black and live in a city full of whitened memories.
  • How Many of Us Were to Be Here? (Quantos eram pra tá?) (Vinícius Silva, Brazil, 2018, 29 min) We follow the daily lives of three young students at the University of São Paulo. They symbolize a first generation of Black students that, thanks to the government’s new education policy, are able to attend the best public universities in the country—places traditionally reserved for a white elite.


  • Aurora (Everlane Moraes, Cuba & Brazil, 2018, 15 min) Aurora is a cinematic essay that starts from the premise: the theater as the stage of life, in which three women of different ages reinterpret their own conflicts on the stage of an abandoned theater.
  • The Orphan (O Órfão) (Carolina Markowicz, Brazil, 2018, 15 min) Jonathas has been adopted, but it doesn’t take long until he is returned because he is “different” from the other kids. Inspired by true events.
  • Keeping our loved ones alive (Nossos Mortos têm Voz) (Fernando Sousa & Gabriel Barbosa, Brazil, 2018, 28 min) This documentary addresses the struggle of families who have lost loved ones to state violence in the Baixada Fluminense, an impoverished region in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Using these tragic stories as a starting point, the film seeks to unravel the suffering of the mothers, whose pain is amplified with every victim’s death. They talk about these interrupted lives to preserve their memory and present a critical view of police actions in the Baixada Fluminense, especially in the context of violence against Black youth.
  • Nascente (Safira Moreira, Brazil, 2020, 5 min) “A river and its affluents…” The filmmaker was among the artists and collectives invited by Instituto Moreira Salles (IMS) to develop projects during the quarantine as part of Programa Convida.

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