BRAZIL FILM FEST Friday to Monday (December 7-10). At the ROM (100 Queen?s Park). www.brazilfilmfest.net. Rating: NNNNN
Toronto's first annual Brazil Film Fest is just the ticket to make you forget about the onset of winter: whatever else they might be, it's safe to say that none of these films feature blizzards.
One flick that's covered in sweat is Ginga (Saturday, December 8, 5 pm, Rating: NNNN), a doc about futebol (what we North Americans call soccer). Ten players from around the country, at different stages in their careers, strut their stuff on the field, on the beach and on the indoor soccer courts.
The film could stand to narrow its focus a bit - there are some players we barely get to know - and it's too bad only two of the players are women, but the game itself is breathtaking in its skill and beauty. It also introduces a sport I'd never seen before: a kind of beach volleyball/soccer hybrid that has teams of two volley a ball over a high net without using their hands.
Most impressive, though, is a one-legged man who plays against two-legged opponents by running on his crutches. It's never quite clear what "ginga" is - aside from the fact that Brazilians have it in spades and the rest of us, um, don't - but if you love soccer, Ginga shouldn't be missed.
Less smokin' is Cartola (Monday, December 10, 5 pm, Rating: NN), a sadly mediocre doc about a famous samba composer.
It's deliberately disjointed, and you get the sense the filmmakers want the music to speak for itself.
The music is indeed wonderful, but the doc offers little context for the talking heads and old film clips. This, combined with subtitles that are sometimes invisible, renders the film nearly incomprehensible to someone not already schooled in the music.
Save your cash and head to the samba section on iTunes instead.