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Bacurau poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Written by
  • Kleber Mendonça Filho
  • Juliano Dornelles
Music by
  • Mateus Alves
  • Tomaz Alves Souza
CinematographyPedro Sotero
Edited byEduardo Serrano
Distributed by
  • Vitrine Filmes (Brazil)
  • SBS Distribution (France)
Release date
  • 15 May 2019 (2019-05-15) (Cannes)
  • 29 August 2019 (2019-08-29) (Brazil)
  • 25 September 2019 (2019-09-25) (France)
Running time
132 minutes
  • Brazil
  • France
  • Portuguese
  • English
Box office$3.5 million[1]

Bacurau (Portuguese for 'nightjar') is a 2019 Weird Western film[2] written and directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles.[3] It stars Sônia Braga, Udo Kier, Bárbara Colen, Thomas Aquino, Silvero Pereira and Karine Teles. The film, a co-production between Brazil and France,[4][5] revolves around Bacurau, a fictional small town in the Brazilian sertão that is beset by strange happenings following the death of its matriarch at the age of 94.[6]

It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival,[7] and won the Jury Prize.[8][9]


In the near future, the people of Bacurau, a fictional settlement in the also fictional municipality of Serra Verde, in western Pernambuco, witness a series of unusual events, including telephone signals going down, the settlement unexplainably disappearing from online maps, flying saucer-shaped drones chasing travelers and a couple of motor bikers from Rio de Janeiro passing by.

This all happens after the death of Carmelita, a matriarch of the village, and villagers and other relatives have gathered for her funeral.

During this time we learn there is a dispute over water rights from the local river, with water being dammed upstream in a collusion of which the mayor of Serra Verde, Tony Junior (Thardelly Lima), is a part. He visits Bacurau in his re-election campaign and is clearly despised by the people of the village.

In the meantime, the villagers are forced to have water delivered by truck from a source farther upstream. One of the curious goings-on is that the truck is shot at, resulting in multiple leaks.

When dozens of horses show up in town, two men are sent to investigate the nearby farm from where they presumably escaped and find out the whole family murdered. As the two men leave the property, they are executed by the couple on the motor bikes.

This couple rendezvous with a group of foreigners led by Michael (Udo Kier) and are apprehended for killing the two men, since killing will allow the foreigners to score "points". After receiving unheard instructions through earpieces, the foreigners execute the motor-bike couple and argue over who did the killing and is entitled to more points.

As the death toll rises and a 9-year-old boy is slaughtered in cold blood, Pacote (Thomas Aquino) deduces the town will be attacked and leads efforts to prepare the people to defend themselves. When the foreigners arrive, they are all killed by the locals, except for Michael, who ends up captured. Soon after the battle, Tony Junior, already persona non grata in Bacurau, comes to town and Michael calls his name; Tony denies knowing him. The mayor is sent away half-naked and tied up to a donkey while Michael is buried alive in an underground cell while shouting that "this is only the beginning".


  • Sônia Braga as Domingas
  • Udo Kier as Michael
  • Bárbara Colen as Teresa
  • Thomas Aquino as Pacote / Acacio
  • Silvero Pereira as Lunga
  • Thardelly Lima as Tony Jr.
  • Rubens Santos as Erivaldo
  • Wilson Rabelo as Plinio
  • Carlos Francisco as Damiano
  • Luciana Souza as Isa
  • Karine Teles as Foreigner
  • Julia Marie Peterson as Julia



Bacurau was filmed in the village of Barra in the municipality of Parelhas and in the rural area of the municipality of Acari, at the Sertão do Seridó region, in Rio Grande do Norte.[10]


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Bacurau holds an approval rating of 92% based on 153 reviews, with an average rating of 7.70/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Formally thrilling and narratively daring, Bacurau draws on modern Brazilian sociopolitical concerns to deliver a hard-hitting, genre-blurring drama."[11] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "Universal acclaim".[12]

Barry Hertz of The Globe and Mail gave Bacurau a favorable review, saying it was a "fiery anti-colonialism polemic with so much on its mind that you’ll likely come out of it feeling as dazed as the titular village’s people,"[13] while Monica Castillo of praised its "twists and turns."[14] David Friend of The Canadian Press highlighted Udo Kier's performance saying it was "one of his best villainous roles."[15]


It was released by Vitrine Filmes in Brazil and SBS Distribution in France. Its North American release was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting the distributor Kino-Lorber to seek alternate means. It created a "virtual cinema" distribution model in which it partnered with some 150 independent theaters in North America. The first run of the film streams in an exclusive limited release window through the theaters' websites. Kino-Lorber shares the revenues with the theaters.[6]


  1. ^ "Bacurau". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Bacurau first look: a way out weird western for menacing times". British Film Institute. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  3. ^ "The Screenings Guide 2019". 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  4. ^ "Bacurau". Cineuropa. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  5. ^ Barlow, Helen (6 June 2019). "'Bacurau' Filmmakers on Pulling Inspiration from Brazil's Broken System | Cannes 2019". Collider. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  6. ^ a b Bramesco, Charles (30 March 2020). ""Virtual cinemas" aim to take US arthouse theaters online – and into the future". Little White Lies. TCOLondon Publishing. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Cannes festival 2019: full list of films". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  8. ^ "Bong Joon-ho's Parasite Wins the Palme d'Or at Cannes". Variety. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Bong Joon-ho's Parasite wins Palme d'Or at Cannes film festival". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Sessão especial de 'Bacurau' em Parelhas emociona moradores da cidade". G1 (in Portuguese). 23 August 2019. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Nighthawk (Bacurau) (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Bacurau Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Review: The wild, genre-hopping Bacurau's innovative digital release may be the lifeline indie cinemas need right now". Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  14. ^ Castillo, Monica. "Bacurau movie review & film summary (2020) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  15. ^ Friend, David (14 September 2019). "Six stellar films that flew under the radar at the Toronto International Film Festival". CityNews/The Canadian Press. Retrieved 2 September 2020.

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