Brazil, 2010, 106 min
The harsh realities of life in Rio de Janeiro can’t extinguish the fire in the heart of 16-year-old Luiza, a young student with a fondness for inventing fairy tales and games of fantasy with her friends. After her cousin João is shot in an attack by military police, his ghost appears in Luiza’s apartment seeking sanctuary. There he is embraced and celebrated by Luiza and her cohorts, then mourned when he leaves. “I have decided I am going to be brave and joyful,” Luiza announces to a world readying itself for the apocalypse. Her imagination and spirit carry her beyond the confines of the unhappy world created by adults. The teens, while not shying away from the hard demands of life in Rio, also create their own reality and find their own way through the turmoil. Directors Felipe Bragança and Marina Meliande carefully selected a cast of nonprofessionals after a year of auditions in Rio. Searching for teen superheroes, they happened upon 15-year-old Tainá Medina, who as Luiza embodies joyful enthusiasm, playfulness and a wellspring of determined strength. The Joy is the directors’ second film in a trilogy on modern youth, focusing on the courage and indomitable spirit of today’s young people. As they courageously venture forth into an uncertain future amid a large and dangerous city, the teen protagonists demonstrate the transformative power of magical realism and show that whatever may happen in the external world, reality is the story we tell ourselves.
North American Premiere.