Acclaimed director Kleber Mendonca Filho (Bacurau, Aquarius, Neighboring Sounds) creates an incredible docfilm in PICTURES OF GHOSTS, revisiting his personal history and hometown cinema landscape in Recife, Brazil 

By Oliver Carnay

PICTURES OF GHOSTS is the official entry of Brazil for Best International Feature Film at the upcoming 96th Academy Awards.


The film will open in New York on Friday, January 26, 2024, at the Lincoln Center, and in Los Angeles, on February 2nd at Laemmle Glendale.  A national roll out will follow.  Please follow this link:

With a mix of archival footage and voice recordings from his family history, Director Kleber Mendonca Filho created a multidimensional way of telling stories and the journey achieving a director’s deep understanding of his own past and the declining landscape of his hometown in Recife, Brazil. 

Filho’s film is a lovely homage to art, filmmaking, capturing the decline of local cinemas, and the journey of a changing city landscape, an archaeological site that reveals aspects of life in society which have been lost.  

He uses three parts of stories to embody memories that are deeply personal.  Established from his first amateur films where he uses shots in his own apartment and stars friends and some neighbors.  Growing up from the time he discovered his lens producing amateur films, using friends and neighbors who frequent their home, including a neighbor’s cat. 

Continuing on Act 2 were famous places he visited, such as the art Palacio cinema where he was educated, looking at the bare cinema marquees and glimpses of photos. In the last Act, revealing the demise of several auditoriums now converted into evangelical churches.  With the change in digital distributions of films now coordinated in Sao Paulo, the cultural community has no possible resurrection and is a past history. This is Filho’s heartfelt love letter to filmmaking that should be seen by film and art lovers.

Director Kleber Mendonca Filho graduated journalism from the Federal University of Pernambuco and has an extensive career as a critic and programmer.  He was responsible for the cinema section of the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation for 18 years and wrote for Jornal do Commercio in Recife, as well as other outlets such as Revisit Continente and Folha de São Paulo.  He is the artistic director of the Janela Internacional de Cinema do Recife and the chief curator of Cinema at the Moreira Salles Institute.

As a filmmaker, he transitioned from video in the 90s, experimenting with fiction, documentary and music videos, to digital and 35mm in the 2000s.  His short films (“A Menina do Algodão,” “Vinil Verde,” “Elecrodomestica,” and “Recife Trio”) have received over 100 awards in Brazil and abroad.

His first feature-length film is the documentary “Critics” (2008).  In 2014, he made “The World Cup in Recife,” a 15-minute documentary made for Canal SporTV and Casa de Cinema de Porto Alegre.

“Neighboring Sounds” (2012) was his first fiction feature, shown in over 100 international festivals, commercially released in 14 countries, and winner of 32 awards.  The film was Brazil’s representative for the 2014 Oscars and considered “One of the 10 Best Films of the Year” by The New York Times.

“Aquarius” (2016), his second feature, had an even more prestigious career, debuting in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and distributed in over 100 countries.

In 2018, he co-directed and co-wrote, alongside Juliano Dornelles, “Bacurau,” which premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2019 and won the Jury Prize.