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The Edge of Democracy review – to the heart of Brazilian politics

Petra Costa’s powerful documentary charts the state’s descent into populism and the fraying of its democratic fabric

Brazilian actor-writer-director Petra Costa is known for mining her personal and family history for material. Her first feature, Elena, turned her search for her absent older sister into a deeply evocative documentary about loss, familial love, rivalry and displacement as it flutters between São Paulo in Brazil and New York City.

Costa’s latest documentary, The Edge of Democracy, finds her intersecting the personal and political on an even bigger public stage, and in the process documents a crisis erupting in slow motion at the heart of Brazilian politics. Thanks to extraordinary access to figures at the centre of the story – former leftist Workers’ Party presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (AKA Lula) and Dilma Rousseff, as well as rightwingers Michel Temer and current president Jair Bolsonaro – Costa manages to craft an intimate primer about the state’s descent into populism and the fraying of the country’s democratic fabric.

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