O Ensaio

The Rehearsal
Isa, a young artist invited to propose a project for an exhibition, sets out to stage a dramatic adaptation of ‘The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas’, a satirical 19th-century novel by Machado de Assis. The rehearsal is marred by difficulties which the viewer must interpret as being due to the fact that Isa is a woman, young, black, all of the above, or as difficulties anyone would encounter.
The novel delivers a mordant critique of Brazilian society in the guise of a satirical autobiography narrated by a dead protagonist. In 1880 its author foresaw the abolition of slavery that would happen in Brazil eight years later, but predicted that it would be a mere formal measure, informally everything would remain the same.
The film was shot at the Ibirapuera pavilion designed by Oscar Niemeyer and its cast is made up of professional and non-professional actors, several of whom worked or currently work for the São Paulo Biennial Foundation. Featuring actors recast from another project Guimarães had worked on eight years earlier, O Ensaio is a film about the passage of time, about short lived revolutionary actions, about institutional memory, racism, and sexism in Brazil.
by Tamar Guimarães
with Isabél Zuaa, Germano Melo, Camila Mota, Julia Ianina, Kelner Macêdo, Silvio Restiffe, Suely Rolnik, Ivo Mesquita, Pablo Lafuente, Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro
Brazil / Denmark 2019 Portuguese 51’ Colour


  • Isabél Zuaa
  • Germano Melo
  • Camila Mota
  • Julia Ianina
  • Kelner Macêdo
  • Silvio Restiffe
  • Suely Rolnik
  • Ivo Mesquita
  • Pablo Lafuente
  • Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro


Director Tamar Guimarães
Screenplay Tamar Guimarães, Melissa de Raaf, Lillah Hallah
Cinematography Bárbara Alvarez
Editing Tamar Guimarães, Beatriz Pomar
Music Arto Lindsay
Sound Design Rubén Valdes, Filip Caranica
Sound Rubén Valdes
Production Design Luís Knihs, Maria Chiaretti
Costumes Dayse Barreto
Make-Up Guilherme Funari
Casting Tamar Guimarães, Lillah Hallah, Maria Chiaretti
Assistant Directors Lillah Hallah, Patrícia Monegatto
Production Manager Luís Knihs
Producers Luís Knihs, Maria Chiaretti, Tamar Guimarães

World sales

Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel

Produced by

Tamar Guimarães

Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Danish Arts Foundation

Tamar Guimarães

Tamar Guimarães, born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 1967, is a visual artist working with film and other forms of time based media. She studied Fine Arts at Goldsmiths, University of London and at the Konsthögskolan i Malmö and Art Theory at Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi, København. Guimarães’s work has been exhibited at biennials and in solo and group exhibitions worldwide. She lives and works in Copenhagen.

Filmography (selection)

2010 Canoas; 14 min. 2011 The Work of the Spirit (Parade); 12 min. 2014 A Família do Capitão Gervásio 2013 - 2014 (Captain Gervasio's Family); with Kasper Akhøj, 16 min. 2015 The Parrot’s Tail; with Kasper Akhøj, video installation, 17 min. 2016 La Incorrupta (The Uncorrupted); 36 min. 2017 Studies for A Minor History of Trembling Matter; with Kasper Akhøj, 32 min. 2019 O Ensaio (The Rehearsal)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019