Cannes Film Fest 2019: Bacurau–Powerful Brazilian Film, Starring Sônia Braga and Udo Kier

Directed by Kleber Mendonca Filho and Juliano Dornelles, Bacurau world premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Fest, where it won the Jury Prize.
The international cast of this Barzilian-French co-production includes Sônia Braga, Udo Kier, Bárbara Colen, Thomas Aquino, Silvero Pereira and Karine Teles.
Bacurau, a small village in the Brazilian sertão, mourns the loss of its matriarch, Carmelita, who lived to be 94.  Days later, its inhabitants (among them Sônia Braga) notice that their village has literally vanished from online maps and a UFO-shaped drone is seen flying overhead.
There are forces that want to expel them from their homes, and soon, a band of armed mercenaries led by Udo Kier arrive in town picking off the inhabitants one by one.
A fierce confrontation takes place when the townspeople turn the tables on the villainous outsiders, banding together to protect and maintain their remote community. The mercenaries may have met their match in the fed-up, resourceful denizens of little Bacurau.

Defying easy categorization, Bacurau comes close to being a weird, violent Western, boasting a bold narrative, replete with twists and turns that keep you guessing as the turn of events is unpredictable.

The text, which boasts a dazzling style, could be read as a more general anti-colonialism polemic, while at the same time addresses uniquely Brazilian geo and socio-political concerns.

Cult actor Udo Kier renders a powerful performance in what may be one of his strongest villainous roles.

Bacurau poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster

Narrative Structure:

Set in the near future, the tale centers Bacurau, a fictional settlement in western Pernambuco, and its people, who witness some unusual events, including telephone signals going down, the settlement unexplainably disappearing from online maps, flying saucer-shaped drones chasing travelers and a couple of motor bikers from Rio de Janeiro passing by.

This all happens after the death of Carmelita, a matriarch of the village, and villagers and other relatives have gathered for her funeral.

Meanwhile, there is dispute over water rights from the local river, with water being dammed upstream in a collusion. The region’s mayor, Tony Junior (Thardelly Lima) visits Bacurau in his reelection campaign and is clearly despised by the people of the village.


Large crowd including guitarist Rodger Rogerio in Bacurau.
Photograph from Kino International / Everett

Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonça Filho directed this bold political and supernatural fantasy about a rural Brazilian village that, during an electoral campaign, is subjected to attack by a band of mercenaries and organizes a

The villagers are forced to have water delivered by truck from a source farther upstream, but the truck is attacked, resulting in multiple leaks.

When dozens of horses show up in town, two men are sent to investigate the nearby farm from where they presumably escaped and find out the whole family murdered. As the men leave the property, they are executed by the couple on the motor bikes.

A group of foreigners led by Michael (Udo Kier) are apprehended for killing the two men, as killing will allow them to score “points.” After receiving instructions through earpieces, the foreigners execute the motor-bike couple and argue over who did the killing and is entitled to more points.

The death toll rises and a 9-year-old boy is slaughtered in cold blood. Pacote (Thomas Aquino), deducing the town will be attacked, leads the people to defend themselves. When the foreigners arrive, they are all killed by the locals, except for Michael, who ends up captured.

Soon after the battle, Tony Junior, already persona non grata in Bacurau, comes to town and Michael calls his name; Tony denies knowing him. The mayor is sent away half-naked and tied up to a donkey, while Michael is buried alive in an underground cell while shouting, “this is only the beginning”.