July 9, 2003
Writer Karim Ainouz makes his feature film directorial debut with this historical movie, which is based on the true story of Joao Francisco dos Santos, an uneducated child of freed slaves from America who made his home in Brazil. He made his claim to fame using his stage name of Madame Sata. He entertained cabaret audiences by trying to emulate his idol, Josephine Baker.
However, he was frustrated by his lowly upbringing and tried to rise from that status. This led to his spending 28 of the 33 years from 1932 to 1965 in prison for various crimes. But he never gives up his dream of entertaining people. Later in life, he became a frequent presence at Rio’s Carnivale and ended up winning the Best Costume award several times.
Many critics have said they hope Ainouz makes a follow-up to this film. Much of Francisco dos Santos’s life outside of this picture was described in title cards at the end of the movie. The critics think that these rich missing details would make for a wonderful sequel. Let’s hope the funding can be pulled together.
This film has been raking in the awards at film festivals around the world, including Chicago and Sao Paolo, since its world premiere at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. It had its U.S. premiere at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and will be having a regular theatrical release this summer. (Marty Doskins/BOP)