Video: Neighbouring Sounds director Q&A

Brazilian writer-director Kleber Mendonça Filho talks about his tense, bold and fiercely compelling portrait of urban life in modern-day Brazil.

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A young man wakes up to find his girlfriend’s car has been broken into. A mother struggles to sleep, disturbed by the barking of guard dogs next door. An ageing patriarch seeks refuge from the tumult of the ever-changing city in the rural peace of his one-time plantation hideaway. 

A dazzling ensemble drama, Neighbouring Sounds is set among a handful of residents in a middle-class street in the northern Brazilian city of Recife. Focusing on the appearance of a gang of private security guards who offer householders the promise of protection, writer-director Kleber Mendonça Filho offers revealing fragments of a society frayed by paranoia. 

The results thrillingly defy categorisation, but what emerges under Filho’s precise, quietly virtuoso direction is a film of novelistic richness and sly provocation; a kind of urban horror story about the fear of violence that ripples under the fragile poise of everyday middle-class life in Brazil. One thing’s for sure: this is a directorial debut of astonishing assurance.

Edward Lawrenson

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