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Aleijadinho, Passion, Glory and Torment

Uruguay, 2005, 100 min, 35mm, drama in Spanish with English subtitles, Leonardo Ricagni, dir.
The Tracker

Obdulio is an 11-year-old Afro-Uruguayan boy who lives with his grandmother and sells newspapers for a living while he cannot read or write. Obdulio is not interested in going to school until he finds out that the night watchman of the newspaper's office is a charismatic magical "Maestro" who not only introduces him to the world of literacy but also teaches him the real meaning of life through the lyrics of the "Murgas" (Carnival Pierrots) during the mythical nights of the irreverent and provocative Uruguayan carnival.

With a poetic nod to Fellini, Leonardo Ricagni uses the carnival atmosphere to transport the viewer to a magical place where realism and surrealism live side by side in Uruguay—and what a wonderful place to be. With sweeping directorial vision and gorgeously shot with rich, vibrant colors, A DIOS MOMO achieves a rich visual and spiritual sensibility unparalleled today. – Shaz Bennett AFI Fest 2005


STARRING: Jorge Esmoris, Mathias Acuna, Washington Luna

DIRECTOR: Leonardo Ricagni

WRITER: Leonardo Ricagni

PRODUCERS: Raul Pochintesta

GENRE: Drama

FORMAT: 35mm

NICHES: Afro-Latino, Coming of Age, Literacy


"Arriving on wings from Uruguay with hope and heart spilling from every frame is "Goodbye, Momo," Leonardo Ricagni's documentary-textured fairytale about an illiterate boy who dreams of soccer glory while hawking papers on the streets of Montevideo.

It begins by invoking De Sica's "Shoeshine" in all its gritty neo-realist resonance, but soon morphs into the magic surrealism of Fellini's "Amarcord." What brings it home is the specific flavor of of its place, nudged into gently soaring folkloric poetry by an annual 40-night-long community-wide Carnival.

One lesson Ricagni learned well from De Sica and the Italians is that casting the right non-professional is half the story. In this case, it's Mathias Acuna's Obdulio, who lives with his grandmother and younger sisters in a leprous-walled hovel, manfully supporting them all. He gets magical help when the mythical carnival god Momo takes a shine to him, morphing from street mime to newspaper pressroom night maintenance man and writing song lyrics that help Obdulio's life take off (into literacy!) as he sparks the fortunes of simpatico street performers into whose mouths he puts the god's lyrics. A charmer of a kid in a charmer of a movie." By Jay Carr - AMNewYork Movie Critic

35mm rental:Please inquire.
DVD sale: $245
DVD bonus film: Candombe

African Film