Festival Review/News: Private Desert (Deserto Particular) in Select Theaters After Cine las Americas

Brazil’s submission to the International Feature category at 94th Academy Awards®, Private Desert (Deserto Particular) was the Closing Night film at this summer’s Cine las Americas International Film Festival (CLAIFF) in Austin, TX and now, the film had a U.S. theatrical release in New York City. Starting September 9th, the film will be at the Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles and other cities nationwide.

The potent queer drama from acclaimed Brazilian director Aly Muritiba (To My Beloved), is anchored by excellent dramatic performances from Antonio Saboia (Antonio Bacurau) and newcomer Pedro Fasanaro. The screenplay by Muritiba and Henrique dos Santos traverses Brazil’s contrasting regional, cultural, and political landscapes to become a story of love, desire, and resistance. This script is very well done and captures so much of the experiences they live day to day, and finding their realities.

Private Desert centers on Sara and Daniel. Sara is a genderfluid blue-collar worker who lives as her male birth identity Robson by day and her femme identity, Sara, by night, while caring for her religious grandmother in Sobradinho, a small town in the rural northeast of the country. Daniel, employed in a police academy in the southern metropolis of Curitiba, has been placed on unpaid leave after a violent incident occurs that’s all over the news. The only thing holding Daniel together is his online romance with Sara, whom he has never met in person. Although in a long-distance relationship, they provide comfort to one another (by phone) from within their own, very different life circumstances.

Sara suddenly disappears from contact with Daniel, at a time he needs a supportive partner. He decides to drive 2,000 miles across Brazil to find her. He posts Sara’s picture all over town, but no one recognizes her. He receives a mysterious call from someone claiming to know her and asking for them to meet. What follows changes Sara and Daniel forever.

The cinematography by Venezuelan-born DP Luis Armando Arteaga (Ixcanul) and a score by Felipe Ayres adds to the film’s sensitive exploration of Brazil’s current cultural and political landscape by a new generation of queer and allied Brazilian filmmakers. The additional talented cast: Thomas Aquino, Laila Garin, Zezita De Matos, Sandro Guerra, Luthero De Almeida, Otávio Linhares, and Cynthia Senek.

I have not seen this award-winning filmmaker’s previous work, but certainly am impressed with the quality of the writing and cinematography for this feature. I have no doubt there are more engaging stories to come.

PRIVATE DESERT. Deserto Particular. Brazil, 2021, 120 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles.

Editors: Patricia Saramago; Costumes: Isabella Brasileiro; Makeup: Britney Federline

To find more information: https://kinomarquee.com/film/venue/62d840ebc926fc00012a7fe1

Source: Kino Lorber, CLAIFF

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