20 x Pornochanchadas

A veritable reclaiming of one of the most productive phases of Brazilian cinema was the show 20x Pornochanchada  (Comedic Sexploitation), with the screening of 20 films and exhibition of 33 posters, from May 9 to 22, 2011 at Caixa Cultural in Rio de Janeiro.  The show was put on by the Franco Cultural Association, sponsored by Caixa Economica Federal.

“Soninha Toda Pura” (Aurélio Teixeira, 1971), “Possuídas pelo Pecado” (Jean Garret, 1976), “Escola Penal de Meninas Violentadas” (Antonio Meliande, 1977), “Ninfas Diabólicas” (John Doo, 1979) are among the films that made up part of the show.

Nowadays, categorizing a film thus would represent something of an insult, an accusation. Bad taste, gross, alienated, male chauvinist, reactionary, a tool for the military government responsible for instituting a consensus as to the low level of Brazilian filmmaking, the pornochanchada became a controversial and stigmatized theme and was systematically excluded from any serious discussion of Brazilian cinema.

“Implicit in a peculiar form of entertainment from our recent past lies a successful example of dialog with the audience, and extinct and efficient model of film making, an unpolished or innocent portrait of what attracted us, a strange register of the way we were”, says Alfeu França, curator of the show.

The poster exhibit was a tribute, showing 13 posters of artist José Luiz Benício da Fonseca – Benício, one of the most sought-after by the film industry in the era of pornochanchadas.  According to him, “The composition followed from the theme of the film;  I would read the synopsis. I never saw a finalized film! The film didn’t exist yet. I based myself a lot on still shots, and from there, I would compose the poster.” And of the women’s magnificent bodies, Benicio says, “I airbrushed away lots of extra tummy and skin flab. I was the Photoshop of the time. But I never took the head of one and put it on the body of another – I adjusted things.”



Posters were a great tool for mass communication at the time and often enjoyed a great degree of freedom, daring and experimentation in form, as Rafael Cardoso describes in his text in the catalog.  A low budget did not necessarily mean low graphic quality. In spite of the skewed look of the thinking elite and graphic design professionals who, then as now, often disdained and/or weren’t familiar with this material, considering it, as well as the films, as a sub-product of Brazilian cinema.


A Bit of History

At the end of the 1960s, Brazilian films were incorporating elements from low-budget Italian comedies and represented a revolution in moral customs by adding a pinch of eroticism to the themes of the old chanchadas (trashy comedies). Under the military regime, which discouraged any serious debate of ideas, this new and immensely popular cinema format found unbound territory in which to expand. Thus was born the phenomenon of the pornochanchada.


Two tawdry production areas were responsible for the profusion of these films: the Boca do Lixo in downtown Sâo Paulo and the Beco da Fome (Rua Álvaro Alvim, Cinelândia, downtown Rio).  The term pornochanchada would only begin to be seen in the press around 1973, but already at the end of the 1960s, eroticism seemed to be the right path to follow.

The abundance of premieres led to the explosion of new stars: Helena Ramos, Adriana Prieto, Aldine Müller, Rossana Ghessa, Nicole Puzzi, Vera Fischer, Darlene Glória, Patrícia Scalvi, Zilda Mayo, Matilde Mastrangi..and infiltrated in this feminine constellation shone the leading men Carlo Mossy and David Cardoso, also successful businessmen heading their own production companies, Vidya and Dacar.

In 1978, Amada amante, by Claudio Cunha and O bem dotado (hung) o homem de Itu, by José Miziara, would together draw over 5 million spectators to movie theaters. Even Embrafilme could not close its eyes to the money and success generated by pornochanchadas, and began financing productions with touches of eroticism in fancy dress to attract middle class moviegoers.  A Dama do Lotação by Neville D’ Almeida drew 6.5 million viewers and Eu te amo, by Arnaldo Jabour, had an audience of 5.6 million.

Program of Films and Debates:


A chat with the illustrator and poster maker Benício

Round table discussion “Pornochanchada – A Brazilian Passion” with Carlo Mossy (director, actor and producer), Nicole Puzzi (actress), Andrea Ormond (researcher and film critic) and Beatriz Kushnir (historian).  Mediator: Eduardo Souza Lima (journalist and film director).