Betânia is 65 and a stalwart family matriarch. In the wake of her husband’s death, her daughters persuade her to move back to the village where she was born and where the rest of her family still live. The village lies on the edge of the sand dunes of the Lençóis Maranhenses national park in the Brazilian state of Maranhão, in a newly desertified region not so far from the Amazon. Betânia leaves behind her simple, agrarian lifestyle without electricity and arrives in a place where tradition and modernity collide. Pushed by the ancestral sound of Maranhão, Betânia and her family fight to maintain their sense of identity. Despite the imposing sand dunes, polluted water, financial hardship and intergenerational quarrels, life finds a way, as it always does.
In 2018, Marcelo Botta filmed a documentary in the Lençóis Maranhenses national park. In Betânia, he addresses the ecological and socio-cultural problems in the villages whose desert oases are threatened by the encroaching sands.
by Marcelo Botta
with Diana Mattos, Tião Carvalho, Caçula Rodrigues, Nádia D’Cássia, Ulysses Azevedo, Michelle Cabral, Vitão Santiago, Enme Paixão
Brazil 2024 Portuguese, French 120’ Colour World premiere | Debut film


  • Diana Mattos (Betânia)
  • Tião Carvalho (Ribamar)
  • Caçula Rodrigues (Tonhão)
  • Nádia D’Cássia (Vitória)
  • Ulysses Azevedo (Antonio Filho)
  • Michelle Cabral (Irineusa)
  • Vitão Santiago (Xambim)
  • Enme Paixão (DJ Kaya)


Director Marcelo Botta
Screenplay Marcelo Botta
Cinematography Bruno Graziano
Editing Márcio Hashimoto
Music Marcelo Botta, Tião Carvalho, Edivaldo Marquita, Misael Pereira, Henrique Menezes, A Barca
Sound Design Armando Torres Jr., Caio Guerin, Martín Grignaschi
Sound Raoni Gruber
Production Design Mariana Cristal Hui
Make-Up Mel Carabolante
Casting Luna Gandra, Marcelo Botta
Producers Gabriel Di Giacomo, Marcelo Botta
Executive Producers Luciana Coelho, Isabel Abduch

Marcelo Botta

Born in 1984, the Brazilian filmmaker has explored storytelling cultures in over 20 countries in regions including the Amazon, Patagonia, the Andes, the Atacama Desert and the Caribbean in his documentary work. Betânia is his debut feature film.


2024 Betânia

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2024