Moreira, Paulo

“Compulsive Memory: The Endurance of 1969 in Brazil,” Studies in Spanish and Latin American Cinemas, 16.2 (2019), p. 233-250.


Political events turned 1969 into a year that has been periodically revisited in Brazilian culture. Living under a full-fledged military dictatorship implanted in December 1968 that made it impossible for Brazilians to organize peaceful demonstrations, small armed groups took central stage with the kidnapping of the US ambassador while the president general Costa e Silva suffered a stroke. The stunning success of that operation contrasted with the gruesome murder of the guerrilla leader Carlos Marighella shortly afterwards. This article focuses on memoirs from survivors of those events (Fernando Gabeira and Frei Betto) and on film adaptations of those books by directors Bruno Barreto and Helvécio Ratton. Investigating how history is represented in these cultural products and what they try to suppress or highlight, I wish to reflect on the compulsion of memory both as revelation and as mystification of the past.

Brazilian Films About the Dictatorship, 1989-2019

This comprehensive filmography of Brazilian films addressing the military dictatorship was researched and compiled by author Paulo Moreira as a long endnote to his article that had to be cut for space considerations. It was supplemented with some images and/or links by the staff of SLAC. It is organized chronologically. Follow the links below:




The images in the header above are frames grabs used to illustrate Moreira’s article.  From left to right:

  1. Frei Betto stands in front of newsstand. Archival images inserted in the action in Batismo de Sangue/Baptism of Blood, 2006, Brazil: Quimera Produções.
  2. Actors Selton Mello (Oswaldo) and Pedro Cardoso (Gabeira) are inserted in documentary footage from demonstrations in Barreto’s O que é isso companheiro/ Four Days in September, 1997, Brazil: Luiz Carlos Barreto Producções.
  3. Torture session in O que é isso companheiro: calm, technical precision.
  4. The torturer as a monster in Batismo de Sangue: Fleury, an actual police chief, played by Cássion Gabus Mendes with General Médici’s official presidential portrait in the background.