Ash Wednesday

It is the last day of the big carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro. Demétria, a single mother, is waiting for her daughter Cora in a favela. But instead of Cora, various men arrive: a priest, the governor and a policeman. A brutal police raid is underway, allegedly because of drug dealing. The police contemptuously call the inhabitants of the neighbourhood “favelados” and “slumdogs” and the military shoots even at unarmed children. Meanwhile, Demétria and the women around her desperately try to save their daughters and sons. Structural racism and social conflicts that have been smouldering in Brazil for decades are at the heart of this all-singing, all-dancing musical short that is brought to life with the help of rhythmic drumming and other Brazilian sounds. Directors João Pedro Prado and Bárbara Santos recreated an authentic favela setting for their drama filmed at the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf which features top-notch performances from their cast.
by Bárbara Santos, João Pedro Prado
with Uriara Maciel, Ronni Maciel, Jefferson Preto, João Eduardo Albertini
Germany 2023 Portuguese 30’ Colour World premiere


  • Uriara Maciel (Demétria)
  • Ronni Maciel (Policeman)
  • Jefferson Preto (Priest)
  • João Eduardo Albertini (Governor)


Directors Bárbara Santos, João Pedro Prado
Screenplay Bia Krieger, Bárbara Santos, João Pedro Prado
Cinematography Kleber Nascimento
Editing Anton Buzal
Music Ole Wiedekamm
Sound Design Ricardo Severo
Sound Ricardo Severo
Production Design Claudia Valeria Barrantes Sotomayor
Costumes Gabriel Carneiro
Make-Up Maite Herrendorf
Assistant Director Sofia Bolina
Production Manager Maxine Paatzsch
Producer Vincent Edusei
Producers Sophie Ahrens, Fabian Altenried, Kristof Gerega
Co-Production Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf

João Pedro Prado

Born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1994, he studied audiovisual media at the city’s university, philosophy and film studies at Freie Universität Berlin and is currently taking a master’s degree in directing at the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf. His short documentary Oh, wie frei ist Panama? about a Covid-misinformation-spreading influencer screened at several festivals in Germany, France and Switzerland in 2022. Ash Wednesday is his debut feature. He is currently working on his graduation film.

Filmography (selection)

2019 L’ultima spiaggia di Palermo; short film 2020 Patriotas não morrem; short film 2022 Oh, wie frei ist Panama?; short film 2023 Ash Wednesday; co-director: Bárbara Santos

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2023

Bárbara Santos

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1963. The writer, theatre director, actor and feminist anti-racist activist is artistic coordinator of the Kuringa theatre workshop in Berlin and founder of the Ma(g)dalena International Network: Feminist Theatre of the Oppressed which comprises groups in Latin America, Africa and Europe. She most recently appeared as an actor in The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão by Karim Aïnouz which won the Grand Prix of Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2019. Ash Wednesday is her debut film as a director.


2023 Ash Wednesday; co-director: João Pedro Prado

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2023