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.   

Petra Costa narrates the film.
Why Stream This Film?
Film critic Kenneth Turan wrote that “With our own round-the-clock political circus to contend with, Americans may be forgiven for thinking we have a lock on dramatic, disturbing political theater. Not so, The Edge of Democracy insists. Not so at all.” It’s a film that’s incredibly relevant and brilliantly done.
  • 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.
Kenneth Turan

Los Angeles Times

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.
Matt Fagerholm

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.
A.O. Scott

The New York Times

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.
John DeFore

The Hollywood Reporter

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.
Guy Lodge


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