Brazilian movie Alice's House, Chico Teixeira's multi-award winning first feature, is about contemporary life in Brazil, as seen through the lives of the members of a working class family helmed by middle-aged manicurist/mother Alice, portrayed by the multiple Film Festival 'Best Actress' award-winner Carla Ribas.
Alice's existence has become dominated by taking care of everyone in her crowded São Paulo apartment, from her elderly mother to her takes-her-for-granted taxi driver husband and her three sons. There is no space in her world left for herself.
But when she thinks she has found a way out of the trap, she is only disappointed once again by the male dominated world she can't escape. Filled with profound insights about family, relationships, and trust, it is the most unlikely of Brazilian films.
Alice, at once, spirited, affectionate, resourceful, forgiving, nurturing, flirtatious and naí¯ve, lives in a neighborhood in the outskirts of São Paulo, sharing an apartment with her mother, Dona Jacira who is losing her vision, her uncompassionate husband, Lindomar, a taxi-driver, and their three sons, Lucas, Edinho, and Junior.
At home, Dona Jacira (Berta Zemel) takes care of the household chores as she has since she was a young woman. She washes, irons, cooks, and cleans, while listening to her favorite radio show. Carlinhos Abranches, the show's host, seems to alleviate the old woman's loneliness as she grapples with the realization that she is gradually going blind.
Lucas (Vinicius Zinn), the eldest son and a conservative young man by nature, is in the army and has ambitions of becoming a lieutenant, so that he can imitate the authoritarian behavior of his superiors. He secretly makes extra money from the older men he keeps company with sexually.
Edinho (Ricardo Vilaça), the middle son, is Dona Jacira's most affectionate grandson, but even she is not spared from his need and compulsion for a new pair of sneakers or a Walkman.Â He freely borrows funds from the old woman's pocketbook.
Junior (Felipe Massuia), the youngest son, is the most fragile and closest to Alice. Lucas is his role model and like all adolescents, he is tormented by affection and his own sexual awakenings.
After 20 years of marriage, neither Lindomar (Zécarlos Machado) nor Alice expects much in the way of reconciliation. The taxi-driver saves his sexual impulses for the affairs that he maintains, with a preference for teenage girls including a young woman who Alice treats like one of her own children.
At the nail salon where she works, Alice cares weekly for glamorous Carmen (Renata Zhaneta) who entertains her manicurist with tales of her ideal life with a husband whom she has wild sex with and who gives her lavish gifts.
Enter Nilson (Luciano Quirino), Alice's old boyfriend from adolescence. Alice sees in him the possibility to realize her romantic dreams, changing the course of her love life and finances. Once more she creates illusions that will lead her to nothing.
Alice's House stars Carla Ribas as Alice, Vinicius Zinn as Lucas, Ricardo Vilaça as Edinho, Felipe Massuia as Junior, Zécarlos Machado as Lindomar Berta Zemel, as Dona Jacira, Renata Zhaneta as Carmen, Luciano Quirino as Nilson and Mariana Leighton as Thaís.
Alice's House is Chico Teixeira's first narrative feature film. He has been working as a director in the documentary field since 1989. His first film is Favelas (Shanty Towns) (1989), awarded in Brazil and in Portugal, at the Algarve International Festival.
Then he directed Velhice (Old Age) (1991), a nearly shocking documentary on the daily lives of the elderly in nursing homes, after which he was invited to join many international festivals, such as the National Educational Film Festival and the Video Festival in the US, the 14th Tokyo Video Festival in Japan, and the 34th International Leipzig Festival in Germany.
Criaturas Que Nasciam em Segredo (Creatures Born in Secret) (1995), is a poetic documentary about five born dwarfs from São Paulo, inspired by the universe of the buffoons of the Italian Renaissance. They narrate the psychological and social aspects of their lives.
Creatures Born in Secret received 21 national prizes, including Best Film and Best Director at the 23rd Gramado Festival and Best Director, Music and Editing at the 28th Festival of Brasilia – besides three international awards: the Iberian-American Award at the Cinema Festival of Huesca (Spain), Honorable Mention from the Jury of the 4th Chilean International Short Feature film Festival (Chile) and Second Best Documentary, awarded by the popular jury at the 4th Short-Feature Film International Festival of Vila do Conde (Portugal). The film was released internationally, including the Sundance Channel.
Carrego Comigo (The Inner Me) (2000), his last work before Alice's House, was produced with resources from the BNDES National Contest for documentaries, as well as foreign resources for script development provided by the Jan Vrijman Foundation.
The documentary was shown at the 5th edition of the "It's All True Documentary Film Festival" in Brazil, and after its exhibition at the IDFA in December 2001, it was theatrically released in Brazil and acclaimed by the audience and critics. In Europe, the film has been shown on Swedish and Spanish television.
Alice's House (Casa de Alice) is directed by Chico Teixeira.
Producers are Patrick LeblancÂ and Zita Carvalhosa.
Screenplay by Chico Teixeira, Julio Pessoa, Sabina Anzuategui and Marcelo Gomes.
Cinematography by Mauro Pinheiro Jr.
Production Design by Marcos Pedroso
Film Editing by Vânia Debs
Distributed by Figa Filmas/Vitagraph Films.
Language Portuguese. Subtitled in English.
Running Time 90 min.
Theatrical Release Dates
January 25, 2008 starting in New York, Los Angeles, San Rafael Film Center, CA, Berkeley, CA – Shattuck Theatre, San Francisco, CA – Lumiere Theatre and expanding February 2008 (Seattle, WA – Varsity Theatre), Washington DC.
Landmark's Nuart Theatre
11272 Santa Monica Blvd.
W. Los Angeles, CA 90025
18 West Houston St. (@ Mercer St.)
New York, NY 10012 · 212-995-2000