Brazilian Cinema Part III

Posted on 05. Feb, 2016 by in Brazilian Profile, Culture, Entertainment, Learning, Movies, Politics, Video


Ei, gente! Hey, guys!

Since the Oscars are coming up esse mês (this month), how about we get into the movie-watching mood – preferably with Brazilian movies? As we know, watching movies in a foreign language is an effective learning tool and a means to familiarize oneself with a culture.

Today we’re going to falar sobre (talk about) prominent, award-winning movie director Gabriel Mascaro, whose movie Boi Neon just came out in the theaters.

Mascaro nasceu (was born) in the cidade (city) of Recife and is part of a new wave of moviemakers springing from the Northeastern region of Brazil over the past decade. His critically-acclaimed movies have made the director a representative of contemporary Brazilian cinema.


Here is a brief summary of his most relevant works, some of which are available for streaming on Netflix, Mubi and Youtube:

Boi Neon (Neon Bull) – 2015

Mascaro’s newest release and segundo (second) feature film, Boi Neon is set in the northeast of Brazil and follows the story of Iremar, who trabalha (works) as a traveling bullhandler at traditional rodeos called “vaquejadas” – namely the second highest grossing sport in the country after soccer. Morando (Living) in his truck with his family and working crew, when the protagonist is not ocupado (busy) as a cowhand, Iremar gosta (enjoys) sewing and has higher ambitions of tornar-se (becoming) a designer for women’s clothing. Neon Bull fornece (provides) a unique look into the Brazilian backwoods and its itinerant characters without falling into the usual clichés.

Ventos de Agosto (August Winds) – 2014

Mascaro’s debut feature film, August Winds explores the relationship between o casal (the couple) Shirley and Jason, two coconut plantation workers. The story acontece (takes place) in an island strongly affected by the wind. It was the director’s first incursion in fiction after working in short films and documentaries, who escolheu (chose) to cast non-professional actors for this film. Surrounded by astonishing natural landscapes, the characters devem (must) deal with the tide, the wind and an unexpected event that will prompt them into a reflection on vida (life) and (morte) death.


Doméstica (Housemaids) – 2012

A group of sete (seven) middle-class adolescentes (teenagers) have the mission to film their housemaids por uma semana (for a week). They are given cameras and supposed to record the women’s daily activities, actions and palavras (words), a concept that offers an intimate look into those houses. A compelling approach to say the least, Mascaro works with that footage to create an immersive experience that results in a revealing examination of human relations and a fascinating portrait of the domestic workers.

Um Lugar ao Sol (High Rise) -2009

Literally translated as “a place in the sun”, High Rise reflects upon the implications of owning a upper-class penthouse on the coast in a poverty-ridden country. The movie consists of a series of interviews with the residents of those apartments, who open their doors to the film crew and openly discuss their viewpoints and opinions. Often disquieting but gripping nonetheless, Mascaro turns a satirical eye into the shallow lives and alienated, insensitive minds of its privileged, wealthy dwellers, through powerful images that enhance the sense of being disconnected from reality.


Espero que gostem do trabalho dele! (I hope you appreciate his work!)

History: understand the cultura e política Brasileira

Posted on 02. Feb, 2016 by in Brazilian Profile, Culture, Customs, Economy, Geography, History, Learning, Politics

This brief história do Brasil will help you understand a little bit more about the country, politics as well as the culture.


Why do Brazilians speak Portuguese? We all know it is because Brazilians were colonized by the Portuguese, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean, arriving in Brazil on 22 April, 1500. But what really happened after their arrival? Take a look at this Transparent Language Blog post to learn more about the country’s history from 1500 to the end of the Kingdom and Empire of Brazil in 1889.

Only at the end of the 19th century did the country start to be shaped into what is it today. A Republican military group led by General Deodoro da Fonseca, who became the first president, deposed Dom Pedro II at the end of 1889. The name of the country was changed into República dos Estados Unidos do Brasil (Republic of the United States of Brazil). Only in 1891 was the Republican Constitution created and the State divided into three powers: legislative, executive and Judiciary.

After 1884, elected presidents for the 4-year term were whether from the states of Minas Gerais or São Paulo. This was not a coincidence and it even has a name: Política do Café com Leite (coffee with milk politics) since Minas was the biggest producer of milk and São Paulo was the biggest coffee producer. Fazendeiros e proprietário de terra (farmers as well as landowners) would support some candidates using their power and influence to control the vote of the população.

From 1893 to 1926 the country was crying out for more democratic changes. Civilian as well as military movements started to occur all over the country. In 1930, Getúlio Vargas, backed up by the Brazilian Army after having lost the election, assumed the presidency of Brazil as a ditador (dictator) for 15 years. He was known as pai dos pobres (father of the poor) due to the fact that many work laws were created and enforced by his government. Vargas was a populist who supported nationalism, industrialization as well as social welfare, he was also an anti-communist. The Brazilian economy grew significantly during his years as a dictator and he created state companies such as Petrobrás (which is now a multinational energy corporation) and Vale (a major mining company).

The majority of the nation considered Vargas a great man and president. For different reasons he helped Brazil create a national identity, which had never happened before maybe due to the territory being so vast. Vargas did this mainly by supporting the Brazilian national soccer team and getting the media to help make soccer the distraction and entertainment the nation needed, at the same time making every Brazilian from different social and economic backgrounds feel like they have something in common.

In 1945 Marshal Eurico Gaspar Dutra became president of Brazil, serving for 5 years before stepping down for Getúlio Vargas, who this time, was elected by the public. However, Vargas encountered some difficulties when there was an attempt on his biggest opponents life and a Major was killed in the incident. After that the military demanded Vargas stepped down since they had information that Vargas personal guard was responsible for the death of Major Rubens Vaz. With nowhere to go Vargas shot himself on the chest on 24 August, 1954, committing suicide and leaving a letter. This letter is still famous nowadays and its ending is widely quoted by people when talking about history and politics: “Serenamente dou o primeiro passo no caminho da eternidade e saio da vida para entrar na história” (“Serenely, I take my first step on the road to eternity and I leave life to enter history”).

Jucelino Kubitschek, former prefeito (mayor) of Belo Horizonte and governador (governor) of Minas Gerais assumed the presidency from 1956 to 1961, during his term the country grew economically and was politically stable in the democratic regime. Kubistchek was the president who moved the capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasília, hiring renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer to project the capital city, which is shaped like an airplane.

The next big political change in Brazil was when the right-wing army took over and the country was under a ditadura militar (military dictatorship) from 1964 to 1985. The military felt the economy was not growing as fast as it should and that a dictatorship would be a faster way to implement economic policies rather than through democracy and that controlling the population in general would be easier. There was indeed crescimento econômico (economic growth) at first, but by the end of the ditadura Brazil was left with a massive débito nacional (national debt). Not to mention the thousands of people who were tortured, murdered, imprisoned and deported for opposing the dictatorship.

In 1985 Brazil elected the first president (by indirect election) after the dictatorship and in 1989 the first president elected by popular vote was Fernando Collor de Mello, who won against Lula (president from 2003 to 2010).

There was a monetary change in 1994 from Cruzeiro to Real. The implementation was made by former ministro de finanças (finance minister) and president at the time (from 1995 to 2002) Fernando Henrique Cardoso (known as FHC, his initials). The aim was to combat inflation, which it did, and at the time 1 real = 1 dolar.

So now you know not only why Brazilians speak Portuguese but also why we love futebol (soccer), when the capital was transferred to Brasília, as well as that our money only became what it is today not too long ago. Also, you can now have a chat with your friends about what happened during the ditadura (dictatorship) and how long it took for the country to become a democracia (democracy) again.

Brazilian Drinks – Part II

Posted on 30. Jan, 2016 by in Brazilian Profile, Culture, Customs, Food, Vocabulary

While northern countries may be currently experiencing the chilly winter weather, Brazilian summer is in full steam. As we all know, it’s important to keep cool and hydrated when it’s hot, and there is a great variety of typical Brazilian beverages to help you with that. Last month I wrote about our most famous alcoholic drinks, so today we’ll focus on non-alcoholic options to freshen up your day.



Very traditional in the northeastern region of Brazil, Cajuína is a type of artisanally-produced clarified suco (juice) made from cashew, with no açúcar (sugar) or chemicals added. The bebida (drink) has a sweet taste and golden color and is considered a symbol of our culture, having been adopted as part of our historic heritage. Even Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso famously wrote a música (song) named after it.




The Guaraná is an eye-shaped fruit from the Amazon. Though the juice feito (made) from its seeds is widely appreciated, guaraná is most commonly consumed as a carbonated refrigerante (soft drink), which is one of the best-selling sodas in the country. Since it is more rich in caffeine that café (coffee) itself, the drink is considered to be a natural stimulant and an energy booster.

Guaraná soda

Guaraná soda

Água de Coco – Coconut water

Ever-present at the praias (beaches), coconut water straight out of coconuts é vendida (is sold) all-across the country by street vendors as a major escolha saudável (healthy) choice for a thirst-quencher. It consists of the clear, sweet tasting liquid encontrado (found) in green coconuts. The nutritious beverage contains natural sugars and some important minerals and vitamins, like potassium, besides being relatively baixo (low) in calories.

Água de coco

Água de coco

Suco de açaí – Açaí juice

The pequena (small) purplish berry known as açaí is popular for its culinary uses in the North, though it gained popularity and is very frequently consumed as a frozen paste or a drink. Appreciated for its high energy value, the berry also offers numerous health benefits, containing many vitamins and antioxidants that can boost your immune system. Apesar (Despite) these claims, it is important to note that açaí juice is packed with calories and has a high fat content (good fat, though).

Suco de açaí

Suco de açaí

Caldo de cana – Sugarcane juice

One gole (sip) of this drink is suficiente (enough) to give you an instant sugar high. Caldo de cana -or garapa-  is a liquid extracted from the sugar cane, composed basically of água (water) and sucrose, which explains its distinctively doce (sweet) signature flavor. Though sugary in taste, the drink is hugely nutritious and a great source of vitamins and antioxidant. A cold, fresh glass of this beverage in a hot summer day is great for hydrating your body.

Caldo de cana

Caldo de cana

Vitamina de Abacate – Avocado Smoothie

Though in some countries avocado might be strongly associated with salty foods, the proper maneira (way) to consume avocados here is as a sweet ingredient. The popular avocado smoothie is a favorite among Brazilians and a regular part of our diets. It essentially consists of a shake that blends leite (milk), slices of avocado and sugar. Além do mais (Besides), avocados have plenty of anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits, making for a satisfying and healthy café-da-manhã (breakfast).

Vitamina de abacate

Vitamina de abacate

Ficaram com sede? (Did you get thirsty?)

Stay fresh!