Petra Costa to join Visions du Réel’s Atelier

Petra Costa to join Visions du Réel’s Atelier

Petra Costa © Jorge Bispo


Nominated at the 2020 Oscars within the Best Documentary Feature category for her The Edge of Democracy, Petra Costa will be at Visions du Réel to present her work as a director and producer during the first retrospective dedicated to her work. As part of this Atelier, she will also give a Masterclass during which the audience will have the opportunity to discuss her work with her.

The festival stresses how the Brazilian filmmaker draws inspiration from her personal experience to evoke the divides and contradictions of a country faced with tumultuous current affairs. While she is publicly attacked by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for criticizing his government, the Festival is honoured to welcome a woman committed to democracy and freedom of expression, a statement underlines.


In the work of Petra Costa, the personal and the political are inextricably linked. Her latest film, The Edge of Democracy (2019, produced by Netflix and nominated for the Oscars), constitutes the final part of a trilogy in which the director’s biography confronts the eventful history of her country, Brazil. 


Her first short film, Undertow Eyes, explored the memories and stories of her grandparents, in a personal and existential tale of love and death. Screened at MoMA in 2010, it won the prize for Best Short Film at the Rio Film Festival, the London International Documentary Festival and the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival (Austin, USA). 


Elena, her first feature length film, was the most watched documentary in Brazil in 2013. A hybrid creation lying somewhere between a documentary, diary and feverish reverie, this film was acclaimed by critics all over the world. Among others, it won the prize for Best Documentary Feature at the Havana Film Festival (2013) and was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography at the Cinema Eye Honors (2014). 


In 2015, with Lea Glob, Petra Costa co-directed Olmo and the Seagull, a captivating dive into the meandering thoughts of a young actress during her pregnancy, always delicately fluctuating between the codes of fiction and documentary.


The Atelier will also be an opportunity to present two films that she has produced with her production company Busca Vida Filmes: Babenco : Tell Me When I Die by Bárbara Paz (a prize-winner at the latest Venice Film Festival), and Ecstasy, by Moara Passoni (world premiere at this upcoming CPH:DOX 2020, Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival). 


The director began her theatre training in Brazil aged 14. A graduate of the School of Dramatic Arts at the University of São Paulo, she also studied anthropology and has a Master’s in Social Psychology.


Filmography as director:

The Edge of Democracy, 2019
Olmo and the Seagull, 2015
Elena, 2012
Undertow Eyes, 2009


As producer:

Babenco: Tell Me When I Die, by Bárbara Paz, 2019
Ecstasy, de Moara Passoni, 2020


Costa will join Swiss-Canadian filmmaker Peter Mettler at the Atelier, who will “share his universe’ and his cinematographic practice with the public during a Masterclass. In addition, the festival will mount a retrospective of his work.