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I usually use this blog to plug my own stories but I am making an exception today for this brilliant piece of reporting about how rich Brazilians are destroying the environment to build themselves palatial homes.

Some of the most powerful and influential people in Brazil, film maker Bruno Barreto and the Marinho family that run the Globo media empire among them, have consistently flouted the law by cutting down forests, diverting streams, and disturbing rare habitats.

All so they can have nice houses.

The Bloomberg story says:

“All Brazilian beaches are public by law. Wealthy Brazilians do whatever they want on land that often doesn’t belong to them, says Eduardo Godoy of the Paraty office of the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, which manages federally protected areas.

“They think they are the only ones who deserve to enjoy a piece of paradise because they are rich,” Godoy says. “They say they are the owners of the island or the beach, and everybody believes them. But that’s not what the law says.”

When prosecutors and environmental police go after them (and usually win), the millionaires appeal the decisions in court, knowing that such actions can take years to be resolved. They ignore the original rulings and stay put while their lawyers buy them time to enjoy their ill-gotten gains.

Read the whole story here. It’s worth it.

 

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Brazil has chosen the film ‘Lula, the Son of Brazil’ to represent the country at next year’s Oscars.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce which films are finalists in the Beast Foreign Language category on January 25.

‘Lula, the Son of Brazil’ will not be among them.

I watched the film alongside Lula at a special premiere in his adopted hometown of São Bernardo do Campo in December last year.

I wrote this in a blog at the time:

“I was not so much disappointed – I never thought it would be good – as indifferent. The two-hour long flick was overdone and melodramatic in a style that is way too reminiscent of Brazil’s popular soap operas.

But in spite of all that drama and emotion the movie did not capture me as I thought it could have. It jumped from remarkable episode to remarkable episode with little in the way of context. And although the acting is good, particularly Rui Ricardo Dias, who plays Lula, the film just dragged on.

Most seriously, the film made Lula out to be a saint. And Lula is no saint, even though he has done extremely well to keep the economy strong and reduce the country’s shocking inequality.”

There was no outstanding Brazilian film this year, which goes some way to explaining why Lula might have got the nod. There was no City of God or no Tropa de Elite, for example.

I personally think the choice was in part political. Lula is well known and well liked overseas and the Brazilian jury could consider that relevant, as Fernando Mereilles, the director of City of God, says in this Folha piece yesterday. The fact that the Academy has a positive view of Brazil and the president can only be good for the film’s chances.

Some 1.1 million people have seen the film so far, considerably less than the filmmakers had hoped.

But the Academy are no mugs. This won’t make the final five.

Fabio Barreto’s film ‘Lula, Son of Brazil’ opens on Jan 1 on 500 screens across Brazil, a larger opening than for any previous domestically made movie.

I wrote about the film for Time magazine after seeing the premiere in Lula’s hometown São Bernardo do Campo earlier this month. I was not so much disappointed – I never thought it would be good – as indifferent. The two-hour long flick was overdone and melodramatic in a style that is way too reminiscent of Brazil’s popular soap operas.

But in spite of all that drama and emotion the movie did not capture me as I thought it could have. It jumped from remarkable episode to remarkable episode with little in the way of context. And although the acting is good, particularly Rui Ricardo Dias, who plays Lula, the film just dragged on.

Most seriously, the film made Lula out to be a saint. And Lula is no saint, even though he has done extremely well to keep the economy strong and reduce the country’s shocking inequality.

Unfortunately, much of the early publicity has been overshadowed by Fabio’s terrible road accident. His car overturned on a Rio street on Dec. 19 and he has been in serious condition in intensive care ever since.

Barreto is the director of O Quatrilho, one of the biggest box office hits in Brazilian history. He recently directed the Brazilian version of Desperate Housewives.  His father, Luis Carlos Barreto, is one of the most important directors in the country’s history, having made more than 75 films in an illustrious 40-year career.

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