‘Black Orpheus’ (1959)
One of the earliest films about Afro-Brazilian society was not made by an Afro-Brazilian but rather by French director Marcel Camus. It is an on-screen adaptation of the play “Orfeu da Conceição” by acclaimed Brazilian playwright Vinicius de Moraes who recreated the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice within the annual Carnival celebration in Rio.
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Although U.S. President Barack Obama declared his distaste for the “childlike Blacks I was now seeing on the screen,” the film is still iconic for its early representation of Black Brazilians and for its soundtrack, which features some of the most famous bossa nova songs, including “A Felicidade” and “Manhã de Carnaval.”