Cecilia Amado: True to the contemporary ‘Captains of the Sands’

2012 Brazil Film Fest – Captains of the Sands (Capitaes de Areia) premiered in Toronto

By Ingrid Coifman
Photos by Teresa Oliveira

Captains of the Sands (Capitaes de Areia) premiered in Toronto during the 2012 Brazil Film Fest, after taking home top honors for Best Film at the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival. The film, which is a co-production between Brazil and Portugal, is based on the 1937’s best seller by Brazilian writer Jorge Amado, one of the country’s most prestigious authors and also the director’s grandfather.
The storyline follows the life and adventures of several abandoned street kids known as “Capitães da Areia,” in the city of Salvador, located in Northeastern Brazil, during the 1950s. Cecilia Amado read the book for the first time at the age of 14 and recalls how much she identified with her grandfather’s narrative based on neglect, overcoming of obstacles, and pursuit of freedom – topics constantly permeating the teenagers’ minds and hearts.
“The narrative brings universal themes for any adolescent in Brazil, Canada, or any other country. Pedro Bala, Dora (names of the main characters) and their friends are growing fast into adulthood and finding out what life is all about in a world without rules or control”, highlights the film director, which began working in film in 1995 and was assistant-director for the acclaimed TV series City of Men (2004 and 2005).
There were nine weeks of filming over nine months, giving time to capture to the big screen a quick rite of passage from into adolescence that takes place among her young cast. They are non-professional actors aged between 12 and 16 years who are part of NGOs that work with dance, capoeira, and theater in Bahia State. “I wanted to be able to work with their spontaneity and also to offer them some support after the movie production, so that they would not be abandoned”, she explains.
According to Cecilia, the adaptation is purposely set up in the 50’s, and not in the 30’s (period of Brazil’s New State government), to skip political conflicts that marked only one chapter in Brazil’s history and have a chance to make a timeless movie, focused on contemporary young people that survive tragedies because of their faith, joy and passion.
“The modern ‘Captains of the Sand’ depict Brazilian people, particularly Baianos (born in Bahia). They are people that fight to overcome difficulties through their own celebrations and devotion. When I think of them, I think of how my grandfather viewed his people. He was an optimistic and had high hopes for them. This was Jorge Amado whom I remember while growing up in the 80’ and 90’s – not a young member of the communist party in the early stages of his life, but a mature humanist, passionate about youth and life.”


All screenings will be English subtitled. The Brazil Film Fest will be held at The Royal Cinema at 608 College Street.
For schedule information, please visit and for tickets, go to


Ingrid Coifman

Ingrid is a journalist who specializes in technology, economics, and tourism, having in her portfolio Culture TV, CBN Radio, McDonalds and Microsoft.

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