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FILM OF THE WEEK Low budget, high impact

MARIA DUARTE sees a film made on a shoestring which punches way above its weight

Socrates (15)
Directed by Alexandre Moratto

WITH Socrates, Brazilian-American director Alexandre Moratto shows what a powerful, haunting and socially realistic film you can make on  a budget of just $20,000.

Three years in the making, and inspired by the loss of his own mother, the film is set in Sao Paulo, where it follows the coming-of-age drama of 15-year-old Socrates (impressive newcomer Christian Malheiros) who, after his mum’s sudden death, has to fend for himself.

His is a fight for survival as he battles against losing his home, his struggle with grief and his sexual awakening.

The film has been made by a crew of 16-20 year olds from the UNICEF-backed Quero Institute in Brazil which runs social inclusion projects with teenagers from low-income households.

They've produced a gritty yet intimate drama which gives a voice and cinematic presence to those from under-represented communities determined to make a better life for themselves despite their social inequality.

Moratto delivers an impressive and thought-provoking debut feature, aided by a remarkable performance by Malheiros, whose poignant expressions paint a thousand words. It is also a very personal film in its depiction of Socrates' mother's death, his conflict with bereavement and his efforts to find acceptance as a gay teenager.

He finds solace in his blossoming relationship with labourer Maicon (superb newcomer Tales Ordakji) which is undermined by the homophobia they encounter. Socrates's estranged father tells him “you can be a faggot with your mother but not with me” as he bashes his head against the wall and kicks him out of his house.

Ending on a heartbreaking yet inspiring note, Moratto shows he is worthy of the Independent Spirit film award. He's definitely someone to watch.

In cinemas and on digital release.

 

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