Oliver Stone’s “Lula” Documentary Premieres at Cannes 2024: A Deep Dive into Brazil’s Political Turmoil

May 21, 2024
Oliver Stone interviews Brazil's President Lula. Photo: Ipse Dixit Entertainment

Oliver Stone’s much-anticipated documentary, Lula,” just made its grand debut at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival. This powerful film chronicles the tumultuous journey of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the thrice-elected President of Brazil, focusing on his imprisonment between 2018 and 2019 and his remarkable return to power.

Stone began working on the documentary in 2021, capturing significant moments even as Lula contracted COVID-19 while filming in Cuba. The film is a testament to Lula’s dramatic and resilient story, detailing his battles against political and legal adversity.

Stone’s exploration into Lula’s life is not just a biography but a critical look at Brazil’s political landscape from 2016 to 2022. Lula’s presidency from 2002 to 2010 marked significant progress for Brazil, followed by a period of political upheaval leading to the controversial impeachment of his successor, Dilma Rousseff, and the rise of Jair Bolsonaro in 2018.

In an interview for the Festival de Cannes website, Stone delves deeper into the essence of his documentary:

What is this Lula documentary about?

Oliver Stone: “It’s about the period where Lula was thrown in prison for almost two years, and, more generally, the period between 2016 and 2022. As President of Brazil for two terms from 2002 to 2010, he was responsible for a lot of the country’s progress. Then came Dilma Rousseff, who was removed from office in the framework of very strange legal proceedings. Then the situation in Brazil went much further to the right, with Jair Bolsonaro becoming president in 2018.”

Oliver Stone's "Lula" Documentary Premieres at Cannes 2024: A Deep Dive into Brazil’s Political Turmoil

What interested you in particular about his imprisonment?

Oliver Stone: “Lula found himself in prison as a result of a coup. He proved this in the film, noting that he had been imprisoned as a result of what they call in South America, and other countries, ‘lawfare’, the political instrumentalisation of justice which consists in putting someone behind bars by means of a number of laws guided by and motivated by political considerations. It was a dirty story. It’s interesting to see how Lula got out of prison, which was miraculous, thanks to a hacker that we interviewed. He told us an extraordinary story, which then took place: Lula was freed, he returned to politics and narrowly beat Bolsonaro during the 2022 elections.”

You decided to favour interviews?

Oliver Stone: “I talked to Lula about his entire life, he’s a good man. I think that he represents something that we’ve really forgotten about: we can have good, liberal presidents. We don’t need war. He’s one of the most pacifist people in the world that I know, and he has the ability to get people to talk again, to lead countries to change their policies. The world is not in danger, with the exception of climate change, but we keep saying that it’s in crisis, that China, Russia, all these counties are dangerous. Who says that? It comes from NATO, from France as much as America. They are the ones who create this danger, they don’t realise they’re causing tension. It’s part of American policy, a way of keeping the world divided to stay at the top. I want people who see this documentary to try to understand the part of Lula within themselves.”

Stone’s recent release, “Nuclear Now,” also drew attention for its factual, science-based narrative aimed at demystifying nuclear energy, a clear indicator of his commitment to challenging prevailing discourses.

“Lula” will be showcased alongside other Cannes Special Screenings, including “Spectateurs” by Arnaud Desplechin, “Nasty” by Tudor Giurgiu, and “An Unfinished Film” by Lou Ye.

If you enjoyed the article “Oliver Stone’s ‘Lula‘ Documentary Premieres at Cannes 2024: A Deep Dive into Brazil’s Political Turmoil,” be sure to check out more posts about influential figures from Brazil.

Explore the lives and contributions of notable Brazilians who have made significant impacts in various fields, from politics and sports to arts and culture. Discover their stories and understand how they have shaped Brazil’s rich and diverse heritage.

Tatiana Cesso

As a journalist, I've made it my mission to explore and share stories that inspire, inform, and entertain. You may have stumbled upon my work in esteemed publications such as InStyle, Marie Claire, Bazaar, L’Officiel, and Vogue, among others. Having called the U.S. home since 2010, I've lived in Chicago, LA, and currently, Miami. But my heart always beats to the rhythm of Brazil. It's where I was born and raised, and my love for its culture, people, and energy knows no bounds. To share this passion, I've founded Brazilcore, a platform aimed at bridging the gap between Brazil and English speakers worldwide.

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