Aiming to do for Brazil what Buena Vista Social Club did for Cuba, music documentary Brasileirinho pays tribute to choro, the overlooked but very important musical style which forms the basis for Brazilian bossa, samba, and more. Filmed in and around Rio, the film features plenty of irresistible footage of choro musicians in full swing, but where Buena Vista had a story to explore there's more toe tapping than chin rubbing on offer here.
Finnish documentarist Mika Kaurismäki uprooted to Brazil over two decades ago, and his 2002 documentary Sound of Brazil was his paean to the diversity of his adoptive country's music. Brasileirinho goes back to its roots, namely the formation of the choro style from native tribal sounds, African beats and European influences, forging the way for the Brazilian music we recognise today. But choro became unfashionable during the 70s and 80s, so is subsequently undergoing something of a renaissance amongst the musicians who feature here, who've dedicated their careers to learning and teaching the music.
"BOASTS AN INFECTIOUS QUALITY"
Kaurismäki adopts a very simple style, intercutting interviews with his subjects with footage of their improvisation sessions and more formal concert footage. The film is light on fact, but the interviewees are articulate about modern choro. In one lovely scene an interviewee gets his mum to sing an old choro song while he and his friends accompany her on guitars, such is the improvisational quality of choro that the musicians seem to be able to break out into song when and wherever they want to. It's this infectious quality to the music that maintains the film's momentum and which, hopefully, will ignite for the rest of the world the love for choro we see there in Rio.
Portugese with English subtitles.
Brasileirinho is released in UK cinemas on Friday 23rd March 2007.