Illuminados, or in English, Enlightened, is a 2007 Brazilian documentary featuring six Brazilian cinematographers talking about their art and their movies.  The movie, directed by Cristina Leal and in Portuguese (I saw it with English subtitles), is quite long, but utterly fascinating.  I had not seen any of the films discussed in the film (with scenes from each)  other than Central Station but would like to see them all, but I don’t think that the point was to advertise Brazilian cinema to Americans.

The movie is more of a teaching tool.  If I were a teacher of film, this is a movie I would want my students to see.  How do you become a cinematographer?  Who were your mentors or idols?  What films have you been proudest of?  Is cinematography an artistic or a technical job?  How does improving technology figure in?  How do you go about deciding what to do?  How do you collaborate?  And so on.

In addition to the interviews and the clips, the director has created a scene:  a woman steps from the shower, surveys her living room which appears to have been the scene of a bad scene, and she takes to the bottle.  A torn picture is on the floor, a picture of herself and a man.  She is clearly very sad and wistful.  The door opens, the man appears, they stare at each other, and they seem to reconcile.  She then has each of the six cinematographers photograph the scene in their own way, and very different ways some of them are.

If you are looking for an action picture or a romance, obviously Illuminados is not for you.  If you are interested in learning about the making of movies from a different perspective, you will not be disappointed.

The films was shown as part of the second Washington Brazilian film week festival at American University.


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