Exploring the hip-hop culture and using non-professional actors to star in this heartrending film that takes a look into the lives of four female friends who share a common passion for music, director Tata Amaral completes a trilogy on women based films.
The four women, who have been friends since they were little, live in the Sao Paulo suburban area of Villa Brasilandia and are backup singers in a male hip-hop group that cares less for the girls’ ambitions. Tired of remaining in the backdrop and musicians in their own right, the women, Preta (Negra Li), Mayah (Jacqueline Simao), Lena (Cindy Mendez) and Barbara (Leilah Moreno) decide to start their own band.
However, poverty and living in a society that is totally men-oriented, the women find it hard to achieve their goals. The women brave through all odds but are consistently pushed back and their band, which they decide to call Antonia does not get off the ground in a way they had all dreamed off. Violence, jealousy, poverty and a pregnancy all try to throw them off-board, but the girls desperately try to cling on to their dreams. Although the girls have a good response at their opening performance at a party, their career does not seem to take off well as internal and external pressures force them to split.
Preta, the main figure in the creation of the band, moves between homes with her daughter Emilia, sometimes living with her parents and sometimes with her friend Barbara who shares a small flat with her gay brother Eduardo. Lena finds that she is pregnant and when her boyfriend learns about it, he tells her to quit the band, as he is not going to have men eyeing her when she is on stage and besides, if she is going to have the baby, she will have to opt out of the band. Barbara has her problems too. She is charged for the killing of Robinho, who on a soccer grudge, had broken her brother’s leg and killed his lover. Mayah makes out with Preta’s ex-boyfriend, which sours the relation between the two women.
The group breaks up, but soon Preta decides to unite the band Antonio once again and inspite of their differences, the girls get back together a second time. The film does not end on a happy note that shows success for the girls, what we see throughout the film is the struggle that these four women go through only to realize their dreams. We see a strong bonding between the friends and their struggle to sur
vive in a male-oriented world. They must give a lot even if it is only the little that they get out of their career, but they continue to pursue their goal, bravely fighting back all odds that are determined to keep them from succeeding.
Tata Amaral has done a brilliant job on Antonio and with the natural performances given by non-actors who are actually musicians in real life and who have only portrayed what they have lived through, the film has turned out exceedingly well. The music in the film is beautiful, as is common in the vibrant Brazilian culture. A most touching number is a rendition of a Roberta Flack song, “Killing me softly”, that holds you completely spellbound. For a film that has been shot entirely with a handheld camera, the scenes are well shot, including the colorful and attractive Brazilian landscape that has been captured in its true vibrant style. The film is definitely an eye-opener for those who have never known any struggle in life.
Director: Tata Amaral
Cast: Leilah Moreno, Sandra de Sá, Nathalye Cris, Z’Africa Brasil, Marcus Vinicius Kamau