Something in the Air

(Uma Onda No Ar, Helvecio Ratton, Brazil, 2002)


A few years ago in Melbourne, there was a theatrical presentation titled Who’s Afraid of the Working Class?. What is most striking in some recent films from Latin America is the vigour and energy with which they present working class lives.


To appreciate the heady atmosphere of the Brazilian Something in the Air, one should recall all those American films of the early ‘80s about breakdancing, pirate radio and street subcultures – and then add a large dose of radical politics.


Helvecio Ratton’s film is a genuinely populist tribute to Radio Favela, a pirate station that operated at the edges of Belo Horizonte. Hounded by police and conservatives while being acclaimed by the United Nations, the small band of committed activists who run the station are not ideologues, but citizens who plug into the concerns of their community.


Something in the Air is a simple film, but its energy and sincerity are infectious. The cast, including Brazilian TV star Alexandre Moreno, give the story an earthy authenticity.

© Adrian Martin February 2004

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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