The Edge of Democracy
2019 | Documentary | 121 minutes | In English and Portuguese with English subtitles
The documentary was influenced by director Petra Costa’s past and her family’s activist left-wing history. It chronicles Brazil’s political upheavals from the euphoria of President Lula’s progressive programs and that of his successor President Rousseff. But authoritarian, right-wing forces in Brazil (and around the world), coercing the legislature and judiciary, were able to bring the downfall of both Lula and Rousseff. Brazilian society became ferociously polarized. The result was the emergence of the dictatorial President, Jair Bolsonaro. It’s a story of betrayal and abuse of power, and also of a country’s pain and heartbreak.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 96%
- Metacritic Score: 81
Sheffield International Documentary Festival: Nominated, Best Documentary
Sundance Film Festival: Nominated, Best World Cinema Documentary
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THE EDGE of DEMOCRACY is an edge-of-your-seat dive into Brazilian politics. Directed by Petra Costa, this completely fascinating documentary provides an unexpectedly compelling inside look at the political earthquakes that have been roiling Brazil for several years.
In lesser hands, this sort of subject matter could have easily resulted in a sluggish dirge, but the 35-year old documentarian Petra Costa, seems utterly incapable of crafting a frame that is lacking in urgency or vibrance. She mourns the once gleaming potential rendered unreachable in the lives of her loved ones, and society as a whole. As a rebuke to the rising tide of fascism around the world, Costa juxtaposes the arc of her own life with that of her country, framing Brazil’s misogynistic dictatorship through her empowered, formidably insightful perspective.
What energizes Costa’s story is the fight to achieve a measure of analytical clarity in the midst of catastrophe. Rather than cloud her vision, her sympathies sharpen it. The facts and arguments Costa communicates should be studied by anyone interested in the fate of democracy, in Brazil or anywhere else.
Costa laments the state of her nation and wonders how long it will even claim to be democratic. Tweak the specifics and the language a bit, and she’s speaking for many viewers around the world.
THE EDGE of DEMOCRACY makes no claim to objectivity. This is documentary cinema in which facts tangle compellingly with feeling, while passages of solemn, stately mood-building split the difference. This is how the hell we got here, Costa shows her audience; how we get out is another question entirely.
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