This blog is part of the courses on film, art, literature, and media
given by Dr.
Hudson Moura, Toronto, Canada.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Budapest by Walter Carvalho and based on Chico Buarque’s novel.

Budapest (Brazil/Portugal/Hungary, 2009) Directed by Walter Carvalho
Based on Chico Buarque’s novel
Introduced by José Abreu Ferreira
Sessional Instructor, Department of Spanish & Portuguese
University of Toronto

Luso-Brazilian Film Screenings: Literature & Cinema
PLACE: Media Commons Theatre (Robarts Library, 3rd Floor)
DATE: Monday, March 31, 2014
TIME: 6:30pm to 9:30pm

Exile is a recurrent theme in Buarque's life and work. Budapest is the story of José Costa, a writer who finds himself stranded in the Hungarian capital when a bomb scare grounds his plane. Written in Buarque's deceptively spare prose, the book is extraordinary for its observations on language, foreignness and love. 'It should be against the law to mock someone who tries his luck in a foreign language,' begins Costa's journey in a strange land. He embarks upon an affair with a woman who mocks him for his poor sentence construction in a language famously described as the devil's tongue. With thoughts of Rio never far from Costa's mind, the story meanders like the unfolding of consciousness.

What emerges is a humorous and philosophical take on the experience of being abroad. The freedom of seeing the world through new eyes, like a child, is matched by the frustration of being faced with an impenetrable wall of sound. Can anyone escape their mother tongue any more than they can shake their past? The theme came back to haunt Buarque as he worked alongside the translator responsible for the English version of Budapest . He discovered that some things had to be rewritten. 'They did not translate,' he says. (
Jemima Hunt)

It's a story about language and the difficulties involved in living in a place where a language utterly incomprehensible to you is spoken. Buarque's the real deal, hilarious and innovative and deftly profound. The premise of the novel is ridiculous – a Brazilian ghost writer completes his self-effacement by disappearing into Budapest – but Buarque sells it so well that, by the end, your own existence feels equally ridiculous.”

It's a great novel, full of fantasy, absurd and bizarre situations, tragic humour.
Buarque delights in ambiguity, in dissolving the borders between people, places and, indeed, paragraphs. He's poetic, romantic, yet often frustrating. At times, the side-streets become the thoroughfares, resulting in an intriguing but exhausting journey.  The self-referential plot is folded several layers thick. It’s impossible not to appreciate Buarque’s craftsmanship and self-centered.

Budapest's character (Leonardo Medeiros) and author (Chico Buarque) meeting in the film

Chico Buarque has helped define Brazilian culture for the past four decades. In Brazil, he is nothing short of a national treasure. And as the author of Estorvo, Benjamin, Budapest, and Leite Derramado, Buarque has sold nearly half a million copies. His father, Sergio Buarque de Hollanda was then one of Brazil's leading critics and historians. Buarque originally made his name as a musician - albeit one with a strong sense of history. Starting out composing songs in the Sixties, he went on to write hundreds of them. His gift as a social commentator was to inhabit the lives of Brazil's disenfranchised. He sang about street kids, a prostitute given the chance to save the world. 'Construcao', a surrealist fantasy about a construction worker falling to his death became a popular classic, enamouring him to a public struggling with political repression under military rule. He learnt the importance of words at a time when words were banned. In 1968, Buarque's first play, Roda Viva, an anarchic satire, landed him in trouble with the law. Like his fellow musicians - Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, Buarque was forced to flee the country. He went to live in Italy for 18 months.

Jose Abreu Ferreira is a PhD student at the Centre for Comparative Literature and sessional instructor at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Toronto. His areas of research interest include post-structural and post-colonial theories; diaspora and transnational studies; immigration and literature; and, immigrant writing in contemporary Portuguese, Brazilian and Canadian literatures.

All movies are in Portuguese with English subtitles. Each movie will be introduced and contextualized by Luso-Brazilian studies specialists, and a Q&A session will follow each screening.

Admission to this event is free, but please take the time to complete our event registration form:
For further information regarding this event, please contact or

Foi quando apareceu aquela que se deitou na minha cama e me ensinou a escrever de trás pra diante. Zelosa dos meus escritos, só ela os sabia ler, mirando-se no espelho, e de noite apagava o que de dia fora escrito, para que eu jamais cessasse de escrever meu livro nela […] e a mulher amada, cujo leite eu já sorvera, me fez beber da água com que havia lavado sua blusa.” Chico Buarque de Holanda - Budapeste