Made in China bridges cultures in Brazil

Updated: 2014-11-17 06:46

By JI YE in Rio de Janeiro(China Daily USA)

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Made in China bridges cultures in Brazil

Estevao Ciavatta (arms extended), director of the movie Made in China, with cast members during the premiere of the comedy in Rio de Janeiro on Nov 3. XU ZIJIAN / XINHUA

The words "Made in China" on products draw different reactions around the world, and a recently released film by that name is doing the same in Brazil.

The comedy Made in China, directed by Estevao Ciavatta and starring Regina Case and Juliana Alves, premiered on Nov 3. The movie tells the story of the impact of Chinese immigrant businesses on the largest market in Rio de Janeiro, a trade long dominated by Brazilians of Arab descent.

The industrious Chinese gradually become popular in the market with their cheaper goods of adequate quality, and their booming businesses cause some resentment among the longtime merchants.

Meanwhile, a young girl working in one of the Chinese stores grows tired of her mundane life and yearns for more freedom. The Chinese and the Arab Brazilians eventually reach an understanding and level of toleration, and the Chinese girl marries a man of Arab descent. The movie reflects the inclusiveness of Brazilian society.

"I hope this movie is not just a comedy, but also conveys a message that the Brazilians have to know how to get along with the Chinese people," Ciavatta said at the premiere.

"Because Brazil is a nation of immigrants, our country should have an inclusive culture," he said. "Of course, Brazil should also learn from China, especially the innovative spirit of the Chinese people and their way to survive in nowadays' new economic environment."

In the movie, Case, a Brazilian actress and TV host who is also Ciavatta's wife, plays a Brazilian salesperson at a store operated by merchants of Arab descent. "The market in this movie is a very famous market where we frequently visited. But all of a sudden, a lot of Chinese stores opened here in recent years, which made us very curious," Case said.

"Later, we observed some cultural conflicts, as well as how the conflicts got resolved in the inclusive environment of Brazil," she said. "I think that could represent the entire Brazilian culture; therefore, my husband and I decided to shoot such a movie."

Case has never been to China and has little understanding of Chinese culture. However, she begins to know China by living and talking with the Chinese actors.

"In the past few months, the Chinese people were very cordial, and they also patiently explained all kinds of Chinese culture to me."

Actress Wang Yili, the young Chinese store clerk in the movie, arrived in Brazil as a teenager and sensed that cultural conflict is everywhere.

"Since I came to Brazil, I could feel the cultural conflicts, because China and Brazil are too far away to have a better understanding of each other," she said. "The Brazilian people don't know the Chinese culture and vice versa," she said.

 "I hope the movie will act like a door so that it can stimulate the interest of Brazilians towards China."

Wang and her real mother also acted as mother and daughter in the movie. They also opened something of a Chinese language school, too. During the filming, Wang and her mother were keen to teach Chinese. Now, all of the movie's cast members can speak at least one sentence in Chinese.

Made in China is the latest example of movies bringing China and Brazil together.

Last month, Chinese director and screenwriter Jia Zhangke attended Brazil's leading international film festival, the Sao Paulo Mostra, for the world premiere of the documentary Jia Zhangke: The Man from Fenyang, and for the launch of the book The World of Jia Zhangke.

The documentary was directed by acclaimed Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles, director of Central Station and The Motorcycle Diaries. He also edited the book the movie is based on, which was written by film critic Jean-Michel Frodon.

Among the gifts that Chinese President Xi Jinping gave to Latin American countries during his visit in July were a set of Chinese movie DVDs.

Those movies, including Beijing Youth and To Elderly With Love by renowned Chinese director Zhao Baogang, and Love Is Not Blind by Teng Huatao, tell stories about ordinary Chinese people and their pursuit of dreams, happy families and love.

Instead of traditional gifts such as silk, porcelain and giant pandas, the movies are representative of a broadening of China's cultural offerings.