A two-time winner of the Grand Prix at the Visions du Réel festival (for Justice and The Trial), Maria Augusta Ramos has emerged as one of the most brilliant observers of contemporary Brazil. Living in the Netherlands, she stepped into the spotlight in 2000 with Desi, the touching portrait of an 11-year-old girl. While the intimate film, shot in Amsterdam, is not as ambitious as her subsequent works, all filmed in Brazil, it features several of the elements that would go on to form the foundation of her approach: patience with the camera, as she finds a distance that reveals her protagonists’ essence; a conscious effort to avoid over-dramatization; and, above all, a remarkable feel for editing, which simultaneously encompasses individual stories and a broader portrait of society.
As a deeply activist artist, Ramos also succeeds in combining an uncommonly intense analytical approach with serious cinematic ambition. Those qualities are particularly evident in her “justice trilogy,” comprising Justice, Behave and Hill of Pleasures. From the workings of criminal courts and prison conditions to relations between the police and the residents of impoverished areas, with significant attention given to the daily lives of protagonists involved in the justice system (attorneys, judges, police, convicts, families, etc.), the three films form an immensely complex picture of the challenges, failings and socio-political issues facing a key institution in every society.
The three films alternate between pure documentary footage and partially fictionalized scenes, often for legal reasons. Rather than presenting detailed arguments, they are lucid and unsettling portraits of society. The deliberately cold and distant observation of legal proceedings is always accompanied by individual stories that put each decision and its consequences into perspective, whether it is family
or professional pressure on state representatives or the socio-economic and cultural realities facing those being judged by a system that can no longer help them.
With Future June and Drought, Ramos extends that same multifaceted perspective to other aspects of Brazilian society: city life in São Paulo and the harsh conditions found in the arid Sertão region. With The Trial, she returns to the justice system with a gripping political thriller focused on the saga of the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, exposing the disturbing subversion of democratic institutions and pervasive corruption in Brazil’s political class. Maria Augusta Ramos’ documentary work is more essential than ever.
Explore the Maria Augusta Ramos : Exposing the System retrospective
Desi | 2000 | Netherlands | 94 min | o.v. Dutch with English subtitles
Justice | 2004 | Netherlands, Brazil | 106 min | o.v. Portuguese with English subtitles
Behave | 2007 | Brazil | 90 min | o.v. Portuguese with English subtitles
Hill of Pleasures | 2013 | Netherlands, Brazil | 91 min | o.v. Portuguese with English subtitles
Drought | 2015 | Brazil | 88 min | o.v. Portuguese with English subtitles
Future June | 2015 | Netherlands, Brazil | 96 min | o.v. Portuguese with English subtitles
The Trial | 2018 | Netherlands, Brazil, Germany | 139 min | o.v. Portuguese with English subtitles
Presented in collaboration with EYE Film Institute Pays-Bas
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Based in the Netherlands, Maria Augusta Ramos has emerged as one of the most brilliant and ambitious observers of Brazilian society, particularly its...