An interview with Ariani Friedl
Monday, March 20, 2023

Ariani Friedl

Cris Lira: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how the idea for the MOSTRA: Brazilian Film Series started.  

Ariani Friedl: I am Brazilian, "gaúcha" (RS), and I have been living in the United States for over 50 years. I worked at the University of Illinois at Chicago for over 20 years as Director of the John Nuveen Center for International Affairs. I was a member of the Board of Directors of the International Latino Cultura Center for over 15 years and also organized the Chicago Latino Film Festival in 2006 when our Director was on a leave of absence. I have the fortune of meeting many of our Brazilian filmmakers who attended the Latino Festival which always brings 3–4 Brazilian films. The question always posed by our Brazilian filmmakers was: "How can we better publicize and where else can we show our Brazilian cinema in the United States?" The idea of creating a festival with only Brazilian films in the Chicago area was born from this and it developed with another idea of bringing films with social conscience to be discussed in universities and other cultural and educational centers.

C.L.: Could you please tell us how you select the films to be featured in the series? 

A.F.: I bring to our festival every year different Brazilian film critics and filmmakers. I also have collaborators in SP who attend many of our film festivals in Brazil and help me collect a list of films with relevant social content, and also films related to our culture (art, music, literature, dance...), history, environment, etc. We compile these in a document with trailers and synopses and present them to my Curatorial Committee (composed of professors, critics, and experts in cinema) for a decision in which films we will invite to our festival.

C.L.: The MOSTRA: Brazilian Film Series started over ten years ago. Could you please tell us what is your favorite memory regarding the Brazilian Film Series? 

A.F.: It was called MOSTRA: Brazilian Film Series for a while and then, as it grew, we changed the name to MOSTRA: Brazilian Film Festival. Every one of the 13 festivals brought many favorite memories, so it is difficult to pinpoint one of them. We try to bring as many filmmakers as we are able to, to discuss and share with us their impressions and experiences with their films (the highlight of our festival). For instance, at the last festival, having Laís Bodansky (A Viagem de Pedro) present with us in Chicago and in Indiana (Purdue U), and later in SP where we also take MOSTRA, was a high point for me as I am a great fan of her cinematographic works. But, I could say the same about all the other filmmakers who attended our MOSTRAs, some of whom I had heard or knew before and some who were complete strangers, whose work I was very fortunate to get to know, and who became wonderful friends.

C.L.: As you are aware, we are organizing, through the generous sponsorship from the Obermann Center and International Programs at the University of Iowa, the symposium Frequências: Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Cinema & the Black Diaspora to take place in Iowa City March 30–April 1, 2023. Could you please share with our readers what you're most excited about regarding this event? 

A.F.: I think it is a great event, one that can bring Afro-Brazilian Cinema to audiences, in particular university audiences, where the themes of race and discrimination (always present) can be discussed. We always include such films in our MOSTRA as we know the importance of the theme. Much more is needed for us to understand all the intricacies of this theme before discrimination can be eradicated. And through cinema, it can be done in a very visible way.

C.L.: Is there anything else that you want to share with our readers?

A.F.: I thank you for letting me share a little about our MOSTRA, and I am very happy that you are doing this very important event. I want to wish you and all the organizers, great success with it.