There was a time when the selection of Brazilian films to watch on Netflix (outside Brazil) was extremely small. Today it’s a different story – Netflix has added a lot more Brazilian titles to its library.
I’ve compiled 30 Brazilian films to watch on Netflix (UK) (plus 3 Brazilian Series) with a synopsis and a trailer. Although all of these films have English subtitles on Netflix, for some of them I couldn’t find subtitled trailers on YouTube, so I had to add the original trailer (good listening practice!).
So here’s my list:
1. All the Reasons to Forget (Todas as razões pra esquecer)
A Brazilian man tries to get over the recent breakup of a long-term relationship and is surprised to learn it’s more difficult than he thought it would be.
2. Nothing to Lose (Nada a Perder)
Evangelical leader Edir Macedo – founder and spiritual leader of The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God – overcomes obstacles and turmoil in pursuit of his religious conviction
3. Forever Chape (Para Sempre Chape)
Forever Chape tells the story of the soccer team Chapecoense, from Santa Catarina, Brazil. A club with an incredible spirit that didn’t stop and in honor of the victims and the survivors of the tragedy, the club today looks reborn.
4. Radical – The Controversial Saga of Dadá Figueiredo (Radical – A Controversa saga de Dadá Figueiredo)
Dada Figueiredo is the biggest anti-hero in Brazilian surf history. RADICAL RIO tells the story of a poor boy who trade the streets of the suburbs for the waves of Rio de Janeiro most popular surf spot at the 70s. Controversial and polemical, Dada is the living proof that neither victory nor defeat is eternal.
5. Marias – Faith in Womanhood (Marias)
A portrait of devotion to the Virgin Mary in Latin America, documenting what the Mother of God means to women in Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Peru and Niaragua.
6. Diary of an Exorcist – Zero (Diário de um Exorcista – Zero)
Lucas devotes his life to church work after a tragedy. When an exorcism case gets out of control, he has to figure out who is under the Devil’s influence.
7. Paradise Lost (Paraíso Perdido)
Marked by losses and mismatches, José’s eccentric family seek to be happy while locked in Paraíso Perdido, a nightclub that has stopped in time, where they sing popular romantic music.
8. A New Capitalism (Um Novo Capitalismo)
How to live in a world with social inequality? Entrepreneurs of Brazil, India, and Mexico found an alternative: to build a new capitalism, more just and human, with profitable businesses and, at the same time, eradicate poverty.
9. The Birth Reborn (O Renascimento do Parto)
The feature film ‘ The Birth Reborn’ portrays the serious obstetric reality in the world, which is characterized by an alarming number of cesarean or deliveries with traumatic and unnecessary interventions. Through the reports of some of the leading experts in the area and the latest scientific discoveries, the film questions the current obstetric model, leads to a reflection on the new paradigm of the twenty-first century and the future of a civilization born without the so-called ‘love hormones’, released only under specific conditions of labor.
10. Confessions of a Brazilian Call Girl (Bruna Surfistinha – literally, “Bruna Little Surfer Girl”)
A young woman abandons her adopted family to become a high-priced prostitute in São Paulo, and documents her new life on a popular blog.
11. Chatô – The King of Brazil (Chatô: O Rei do Brasil)
The romanticized life of media mogul Assis Chateubriand depicts him as the star of a televised trial, where his passions and achievements are judged.
The final holdout in her historic beach side building in Brazil, a retired music critic refuses to sell her apartment to developers bent on demolition. Aquarius is more of a character study, and it can be a bit slow. But the excellent performance by Sonia Braga more than makes up for the film’s shortcomings.
13. Nise: The Heart of Madness (Nise: O Coração da Loucura)
In this drama based on a true story, a psychiatrist rejects electroshock therapy to treat schizophrenia and encourages her patients to create art. I haven’t seen this yet, but it’s high on my list. Gloria Pires is one of my favourite actresses and the films have won several awards.
14. Basic Sanitation – the Movie (Saneamento Básico – o Filme)
When they discover their town lacks funding for a sewage system, Brazilian villagers decide to make a short sci-fi monster movie about the problem. With Wagner Moura and the excellent Fernanda Torres.
The first Brazilian documentary on Netflix gives us an insight into the life and career of Laerte, one of the most promising cartoonists in Brazil.
16. Father’s Chair (A Busca – literally, “The Search”)
In the wild Brazilian countryside, a father searches for his missing son and, along the way, finds himself.
17. Illegal (Ilegal, A Vida Nao Espera – literally, “Illegal, Life Doesn’t Wait”)
Documentary. Her daughter afflicted by a rare type of epilepsy, Katiele tries desperately to obtain the only thing that can relieve it: a substance derived from marijuana.
18. City of God (Cidade de Deus)
Growing up in a Rio de Janeiro slum, Rocket is able to avoid being drawn into a life of drugs and crime by having a passion for photography. Amongst all the Brazilian films to watch on Netflix, this one is a must – a modern classic not to be missed.
19. City of God: 10 Years Later (Cidade de Deus: 10 Anos Depois)
A decade after the seminal Brazilian film “City of God”, this documentary reunites some of the cast and crew to find out what paths their lives took.
20. Love.com (Amor.com)
When a fashion blogger falls for a video game vlogger, their romance goes viral. But separating their virtual life from reality gets complicated.
21. Couples Counseling (O Amor no Divã – literally “Love on the couch”)
A seasoned couples therapist comes to realize she might need help with her own marriage after meeting a new pair of young clients.
22. Bald Mountain (Serra Pelada)
Best friends Juliano and Joaquim head for Serra Pelada with dreams of riches during the Brazilian Gold Rush in 1980, but greed scuttles their plans. Wagner Moura is in this one too!
23. Operações Especiais
In a crime-plagued area of Rio de Janeiro, a team of honest cops, including a determined rookie, fights corruption and mistrust on all sides.
24. Happily Married (Bem Casados)
A wedding videographer loses focus when he meets a free-spirited woman who plans to break up the bride and groom at his next paying gig.
25. Stronger than the World (Mais Forte que o Mundo)
A tough upbringing, natural-born fighter Jose Aldo confronts his personal demons in his quest to become an MMA Champion in this sports biopic.
During Carnival, two teens from different classes meet years after being kept apart. Bad decisions lead the boy to hide with the girl inside a float.
27. Another Forever
Overtaken by the death of her beloved, a grieving woman decides to take a spontaneous trip to visit her friend and get her life back on track.
28. Back and Forth (Entre Indas e Vindas)
When their car breaks down en route to São Paulo, a father and son accept a ride from four beautiful telemarketers who are headed there on holiday.
29. Jules and Dolores (O Roubo da Taça, literally “The Theft of the Cup)
In 1983, the World Cup trophy was stolen from the Brazilian Football Association’s headquarters. This is the strange story behind that event.
30. The Man From the Future
Accidentally inventing a time machine, Zero returns to college to avoid losing his dream girl. But how many times will he have to change the past?
BONUS – BRAZILIAN SERIES ON NETFLIX
1. The Mechanism (O Mecanismo)
Another Series – When a police task force uncovers a widespread corruption scheme involving the Brazilian government and several prominent engineering firms, scandal erupts in the South American country. After detective Marco Ruffo breaks open the case after chasing down money launderer Roberto Ibrahim but is unable to gather enough evidence to nail him, Ruffo’s partner Verena Cardoni picks up the case years later. The series — from “Narcos” creator José Padilha — is loosely inspired by true events.
Samantha Alencar was a child star in the 1980s, but time hasn’t been kind to her career since then. Hoping to launch herself back into the spotlight, Samantha tries to cling to the fringes of celebrity through harebrained schemes. When her ex returns to her after being released from prison, she begins to think she can benefit from the situation. Samantha later experiences the 21st-century version of fame by serving as a judge on a singing competition show and trying to gain followers on social media.
If you want to find out more about the history of Brazilian cinema, this is a very good BBC article by Christian Blauvelt: Brazil: Cinema’s Most Radical Battleground.
What’s your favourite Brazilian film of all time? The films above are available on Netflix UK (at the time this article was written). Are there any good Brazilian films to watch on Netflix in your own country (if not the UK), that you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments below.