Title: BEL BORBA AQUI
Director: Burt Sun, Andrea Costantini
Screenwriter: Burt Sun, Andrea Costantini
Cast: Bel Borba, the inhabitants of Salvador de Bahia
Screened at: Review, NYC, 9/6/12
Opens: October 3, 2012
Whether you are “into” art in any form or want to see more of one of Brazil’s most exciting cities, “Bel Borba Aqui” will provide information of interest. Through animation, fast-motion camera-work, close-ups of the street artist Bel Borba at work and vistas of the colorful (albeit poor) sections of Salvador, Brazil, writer-directors Burt Sun and Andrea Costantini put their effective mark on the relationship between art and a city.
Without expressly stating this, Bel Borba himself, a mustachioed, middle-aged fellow’s personality may have been influenced by that of Salvador Dalí (interesting that his spiritual mentor, if you will, has the name of Bel Borba’s city, once the capital of a country the size of mainland U.S.). With a ready laugh, and a constant plea of “you know” and “you know what I mean,” the title character speaks in fluent English with Portuguese thrown in when he talks to his helpers.
Though here in America it’s unusual to find broad segments of the population enamored of its cultural icons, Bel Borba is a name on the tongues of people of all ages, considered the “beloved son” of the entire metropolis. He constructs designs mainly of tiles, sketching out various animals on the walls of individual houses and on city landmarks, using wood, steel and sand stretching up to the ocean. He uses paint, oil, metals and ceramics as well, showing a penchant for all forms of the visual arts.
Throughout the film, Bel Borba is aware of his potential audience at the movie theaters, speaking directly to us as though he’s letting us in on trade secrets. It’s not clear how he makes a living, i.e. to what extent the government is commissioning him and to what extent he is simply expressing his love of the 500-year-old city by beautifying its outdoor locations.
If Salvador is the most colorful city in Brazil, Bel Borba deserves a good deal of the credit for splashing his talent in a seemingly haphazard order. He can re-do my kitchen any time.
Unrated. 94 minutes © 2012 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B-
Acting – B+
Technical – B+
Overall – B