The Edge of Democracy

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The Edge of Democracy
The Edge of Democracy poster.png
Official poster
Directed byPetra Costa
Produced by
  • Abigail Anketell-Jones
  • Shane Boris
  • Sara Dosa
  • Joanna Natasegara
  • Mariana Oliva
  • Tiago Pavan
  • Mauro Pizzo
Written by
CinematographyJoão Atala
  • Busca Vida Filmes
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • January 24, 2019 (2019-01-24) (Sundance Film Festival)
  • June 19, 2019 (2019-06-19) (Netflix)
Running time
113 minutes

The Edge of Democracy (Brazilian Portuguese: Democracia em Vertigem) is a 2019 Brazilian documentary film directed by Petra Costa nominated for The Academy Awards for Best Documentary. The film follows the political past of the filmmaker in a personal and intimate way, in context with the first term of President Lula until the events leading to the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, analyzing the rise and fall of both presidents and the consequent sociopolitical crisis that swept the country.[1] [2] It had its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and it was released by Netflix on June 19, 2019.[3] It was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 92nd Academy Awards.[4][5]


The film had its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2019.[6] Netflix acquired the distribution rights to the film which was released worldwide on June 19, 2019, along with a theatrical run in New York and Los Angeles.[7] The film was also screened at the CPH:DOX[8], the San Francisco International Film Festival[9], Sheffield Doc/Fest[10], the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival[11] and the Montclair Film Festival.[12]


Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 96% based on 24 reviews.[13] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[14]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times praised the film, calling it "a chronicle of civic betrayal and the abuse of power, and also of heartbreak."[15] Leslie Felperin of The Guardian gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, saying, "Costa manages to craft an intimate primer about the state's descent into populism and the fraying of the country's democratic fabric."[16] David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a grade of B, and described it as "an angry, intimate, and haunting portrait of Brazil's recent slide back into the open jaws of dictatorship."[17]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
CPH:DOX April 1, 2019 CPH:DOX Award The Edge of Democracy Nominated
Sheffield International Documentary Festival June 12, 2019 Tim Hetherington Award The Edge of Democracy Nominated
Sundance Film Festival February 3, 2019 World Cinema - Documentary The Edge of Democracy Nominated
Academy Awards February 9, 2020 Best Documentary Feature The Edge of Democracy Pending


  1. ^ "'Democracia em Vertigem', de Petra Costa, é ovacionado em Sundance". Correio Braziliense (in Portuguese). January 25, 2019. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  2. ^ ""The Edge of Democracy Offers an Outraged but Skimpy Primer"". June 17, 2019. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  3. ^ ""Democracia em Vertigem": Netflix lança trailer de doc sobre impeachment de Dilma". Universo Online (in Portuguese). June 5, 2019. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Ying, Xiu (2020-01-13). "Brazilian Documentary 'The Edge of Democracy' Nominated for Oscar". The Rio Times. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  6. ^ Pond, Steve (January 24, 2019). "'Edge of Democracy' Film Review: Documentary About Brazilian Politics Finds Echoes Close to Home". TheWrap. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  7. ^ Zilko, Christian (June 5, 2019). "'The Edge of Democracy' Trailer: A Front Row Seat to An Authoritarian Backslide — Exclusive". IndieWire. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  8. ^ Lodge, Guy (April 25, 2019). "Film Review: 'The Edge of Democracy'". Variety. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  9. ^ "Part of SFFILM Festival – The Edge of Democracy". SFFILM. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  10. ^ "Sheffield Doc/Fest: Sheffield International Documentary Festival". Retrieved 2019-10-01.
  11. ^ Parker, Andrew (April 22, 2019). "Hot Docs 2019 Review: The Edge of Democracy". Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  12. ^ "Montclair Film Festival May 3 – May 12, 2019". Montclair Film Festival. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  13. ^ "The Edge of Democracy". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  14. ^ "The Edge of Democracy". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  15. ^ Scott, A. O. (June 18, 2019). "Review: 'Edge of Democracy' Looks at Brazil With Outrage and Heartbreak". The New York Times. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  16. ^ Felperin, Leslie (June 21, 2019). "The Edge of Democracy review – to the heart of Brazilian politics". The Guardian. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  17. ^ Ehrlich, David (June 18, 2019). "'The Edge of Democracy' Review: Brazil's Slide Towards Fascism Becomes a Cautionary Tale". IndieWire. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  18. ^ "The winners of CPH:DOX 2019 are…". CPH:DOX. April 1, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  19. ^ "Tim Hetherington Award at Sheffield Documentary Festival 2019". Tim Hetherington Trust. June 11, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  20. ^ "Sundance 2019 preview: World Cinema Documentary competition". Screendaily. January 20, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  21. ^ "Oscar Nominations 2020: The Complete List". Variety. January 13, 2020. Retrieved January 13, 2020.

External links[edit]