Written and Directed By: Kleber Mendonça Filho
Starring: Gustavo Jahn, W. J. Sohla, Irandhir Santos, Irma Brown, Yuri Holanda
Directors of Photography: Pedro Sotero and Fabricio Tadeu, Editor: Kleber Mendonça Mendonça and João Maria, Art Direction: Juliano Dornelles, Original Music: DJ Dolores
True but minor story. The other week, a woman knocked on the door to my apartment. I hesitantly answered it. She asked me if I knew when my neighbors would be back, the individuals who lived in the apartment right across from me. Not only did I have no idea when they would back, I had no idea who they even were. I had seen them maybe once or twice before—an elderly couple—but had no idea who they were or what they did. Nor have I known any of my neighbors in New York for that matter.
So part of the shock of Neighboring Sounds, a fantastic and audacious new film from Brazil, is its exposure to a world where everyone knows everyone’s secrets, even if they don’t know who they are. Written and directed by a new filmmaker named Kleber Mendonça Filho (tough to pronounce, but will surely be hard to forget), the film is set on a single block in Recife, a fairly calm city in Brazil. We are miles from the slums that have popularized most Brazilian cinema that reaches our shores. The block is mostly middle class, with one large landowner living at the top of the block’s high-rises. And within the block is a cacophony of windows and doors, all letting people spy on each other.