|The Year My Parents Went on Vacation|
|Directed by||Cao Hamburger|
|Written by||Cao Hamburger|
|Produced by||Cao Hamburger|
|Edited by||Daniel Rezende|
|Music by||Beto Villares|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista International|
The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (Portuguese: O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias) is a 2006 Brazilian drama film directed by Cao Hamburger. The screenplay, which took four years to be completed, was written by Hamburger, Adriana Falcão, Claudio Galperin, Anna Muylaert and Bráulio Mantovani.
It was submitted by the Ministry of Culture for the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. This choice was unexpected, since it was thought that José Padilha's Elite Squad would be submitted.
The story takes place entirely during a few months in 1970, in the city of São Paulo. Mauro, a 12-year-old boy, is suddenly deprived of the company of his young parents, Bia and Daniel Stein, who are political activists on the run from the harsh military government, which was strongly repressing leftists all over the country. Against this backdrop of fear and political persecution, the country is at the same time bursting with enthusiasm for the coming World Cup, to be held in Mexico, the first one to be transmitted live via satellite.
Unable to take care of their only child, the Steins, who live in Belo Horizonte, drive all the way to São Paulo to deliver the boy to his paternal grandfather, Mótel, who is a barber. To their son, they say they will travel on vacation and promise to return for the World Cup games. Unfortunately, however, the grandfather dies on the same day the boy arrives, and he is left clueless and without support in Bom Retiro, a working-class neighborhood inhabited mainly by Jewish people, many of whom speak Yiddish, an unknown language to the boy. As his father is Jewish, the close-knit Bom Retiro community rally in support of the child and Shlomo, a solitary elder and religious Jew who was a close neighbor and friend of Mauro's grandfather, assumes the care of Mauro.
Mauro is a football enthusiast and wants to be a goalkeeper. He gradually mixes in with other neighborhood children and becomes acquainted with a number of colorful characters, including Hanna, a girl his age; Ítalo, a politically active student from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo; Irene, a beautiful female bartender and her boyfriend, the mulatto ace goalkeeper of one of the local football teams; the local rabbi and assorted Jewish elders, Italian immigrants, and so on.
To Mauro's great disappointment, his parents neither appear as promised at the World Cup nor give any notice. Fearing the worst, Shlomo starts to investigate by himself and is arrested by the political police because of his meddling. Finally, he achieves the liberation of Mauro's mother, who is severely ill after the prison term. Her reunion with her child happens in the very same day of Brazil's final victory at the World Cup. (Mauro's father disappears while in the dictatorship's clutches, never to return.) At the end of the film, Mauro says farewell to his recent friends and playmates as he and his mother leave Bom Retiro and prepare to go into exile.
The film is semi-autobiographical: The director's parents, physicists and professors of the University of São Paulo, were briefly arrested by the military in the same year of 1970, accused of lending support to "subversives". The couple's five children — including Cao Hamburger, the director, who was 8 years old — came under the care of their grandmothers, one Jewish and one Italian Catholic.
The film has received mostly positive reviews. Based on 52 reviews collected by the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 83% of critics gave The Year My Parents Went on Vacation a positive review (43 "Fresh"; 9 "Rotten"), with an average rating of 7.1/10.
Deborah Young of Variety hailed the film as "sensitive, delicate and involving", going on to say that "Hamburger feels no need (nor is there any) to underline the obvious. He has a magician's ability to keep the story light and believable". It also notes that "the humorous central part of the screenplay is bereft of surprises".
The film was picked as Brazil's submission for the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (and was shortlisted alongside nine other films), and was released on February 8, 2008 in the United States and Canada.
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