Political statement

Brazilian documentary "The Edge of Democracy" gets Oscar nomination

"We hope this film can help us all understand how crucial it is to protect our democracies," filmmaker Petra Costa wrote

Documentary launched worldwide on June 19, 2019 moved viewers who witnessed the coup against democracy in Brazil / Handout

The Oscar nominations are in and Brazilian filmmaker Petra Costa’s The Edge of Democracy was nominated for best documentary feature. The Academy Award nominations were announced on Monday morning, Jan. 13.

The other nominees in the category are the US production American Factory, by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert; the Syrian-Danish documentary The Cave, directed by Feras Fayyad; the British film about the Syrian war For Sama, directed and narrated by Waad Al-Khateab; and the Macedonian documentary Honeyland, by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov.

Costa’s film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in the United States in January 2019, and it was released by the streaming platform Netflix in June.

The film features the director’s own background with archive footage and her personal accounts about Brazilian democracy between 2002 and 2018.

Costa shows never-before-seen footage of moments before and after the 2016 coup against president Dilma Rousseff, of the Workers’ Party.

The director had behind-the-scenes access to the impeachment proceedings that shook Brazilian democracy and culminated in the imprisonment of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in April 2018 and the victory of the far-right army-captain-turned-politician Jair Bolsonaro.

“We are absolutely thrilled and delighted that our colleagues have recognized the urgency of this film and humbled to be in the company of such important storytelling. In a time where the far right is spreading like an epidemic we hope this film can help us all understand how crucial it is to protect our democracies. We are at a time where the personal has become utterly political for so many around the world and I believe it is through stories, language and documentaries that civilizations begin to heal,” Costa wrote on Facebook.

Since its premiere, The Edge of Democracy has been critically acclaimed and praised by the international media. The documentary was even included in The New York Times list of best films of 2019, curated by film editor Stephanie Goodman.

In a review mentioned by Goodman, A. O. Scott describes the feature as “a chronicle of civic betrayal and the abuse of power, and also of heartbreak,” in a voice “that is by turns incredulous, indignant and self-questioning.”

The film was also nominated for other festivals, including the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards, the Gotham Awards, and the IDA Documentary Awards.

On Twitter, Brazilian ex-president Lula celebrated the nomination. “Congratulations, @petracostal, for the serious work telling the story of this important period of our history. Long live Brazilian cinema! Truth will win.”

A former minister of Education, ex-mayor of São Paulo, and presidential candidate running against Bolsonaro in the 2018 elections, Fernando Haddad sarcastically recalled a statement made by the far-right president last December when he threatened to cancel a policy that establishes a minimum number of Brazilian films that theaters must play, saying “How long has it been since the last time we made a good film in the country?”

The 2019 Academy Awards ceremony will be held on Feb. 9.

Watch the trailer:

Edition: Leandro Melito