Arts & Entertainment
2 min

FILM: Small penises and fluid love

Sexy Brazilian cinema at sixth annual Portuguese film festival

Credit: Promotional photo
From its start in a tiny screening room at the National Film Board of Canada to its new home at the considerably larger Casa Do Alentejo Community Centre, the Toronto International Portuguese Film Festival has come a long way in the last six years. 
It’s an impressive growth spurt for a niche festival. As TIPFF’s reputation for importing innovative and exciting offerings from around the world has increased, so too has its audience.
Festival organizer Ruth Hernandes says she remains committed to offering both inclusive and challenging programming.
“I think our audience is very open-minded to looking at new things,” Hernandes says. “Film can be a real educational tool, so we’re happy to bring in films that challenge the status quo.
“Having said that, there is a percentage of our audience that is of the older generation. They like the more traditional stuff that reminds them of home, while the younger set are into edgy films that deal with subject matter that is relevant to them.”
One of this year’s edgier offerings is from Brazilian director Alexandre Carvalho. Fluidos (Fluids) follows several stories of sexual dysfunction and change, beginning with a young man and his very small penis. 
Lucas, mortified by his meagre endowment, has an opportunity to change his life when a TV producer offers plastic surgery in exchange for the right to broadcast Lucas’s story. 
Another story is about a young, straight, married couple in a long-distance relationship who, despite frequent and prolonged separations, manage a very active sex life – on Skype. 
Raquel, the wife, tires of stripping for her hubby online and seeks out other activities for fulfillment, including an evening pottery class. Raquel’s female instructor, Margali, wants to teach Raquel more than how to mould clay.
“I think it shows that Brazil is really very progressive in many ways,” says Hernandes of the film’s lesbian content. “After all, San Paolo has had the biggest gay pride parade in the world since 2006.”
Co-organizer Chris de Olveira says she looks for provocative films while scouting new imports for TIPFF. She enjoys giving Toronto audiences insight into another country’s views on taboo or marginalized subjects.
“I think Brazilian society has been more and more receptive [toward homosexuality] as time goes by,” de Olveira says. “I’ve been noticing it more in films and even soap operas in Brazil. If they have three or four relationships in a story, one of them is often a same-sex relationship.”
And while Fluidos’ take on alternative lifestyles fits into TIPFF’s inclusive mandate, it wasn’t the only thing that captured de Olveira’s interest. 
“It’s an amazing piece in that it was the first to be filmed, edited and screened live simultaneously,” she says. “That’s quite an achievement.”
The former film student says she loves bringing cinematic vignettes from Brazil to Toronto audiences.
“We get such a great reception from not only the Portuguese community, but also the Brazilian communities and others,” she says. “It’s very satisfying seeing the festival growing and getting international reputation. We’re very proud.”

The Deets: 

Toronto International Portuguese Film Festival
Fri, Nov 11-Sun, Nov 13
Casa do Alentejo
1130 Dupont St 
Fluidos screens Nov 13 at 3:30pm  
Admission is free