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Paradise Europe (Du bist so Wunderbar)

Young Brazilian gay man grapples the strange idiosyncrasies of Berliners as he desperately seeks accommodation - from the Pardi di Domani section of the Locarno Film Festival


Edu (Murillo Basso) is a 20-something-year-old Brazilian gay man living and working for Amazon in the German capital, while also struggling to fit in with the local culture. He has a serious medical condition (we see the disturbing graphic details within the first minute of the movie), a consequence of his presumably promiscuous lifestyle. The gay scene in Berlin is highly sex-orientated, and Edu works occasionally works at the local sauna. There are ample opportunities for him to meet as many partners as he like. But the consequences of these encounters can be destructive. To make things worse, Amazon has not paid his health insurance, leaving him in a vulnerable and indeed embarrassing situation. What a pain in the arse. Quite literally.

The 17-minute short film follows Edu as he desperately scrambles to find a new room, while also grappling with a sore back door. His prospective landlords are deeply intrusive, and their demands frivolous. He’s asked to turn vegan, not to use the bathroom at a certain hour in the morning, and to go away at weekends so that his landlady can enjoy her privacy with her boyfriend. Even his homosexuality is brought into question. Fortunately, he is not asked to undergo the Flour Test. And there is the occasional racist comment, always neatly wrapped in dissimulated cordiality. It is awkwardness that prevails in these strange interactions, which serve to highlight that even a city as progressive as Berlin is not as welcoming for foreigners as many of us would like to think.

These countless and protracted interviews are interspersed with images of a demonstration against the removal of the renting cap in Berlin. Edu wishes to attend the protest, but his busy routine coupled with the fact that he only has a few days to find a new dwelling prevent him from doing so.

Paradise Europe presents the experience of immigration through a realistic lens. The story is mostly credible and palpable, even if some of the characters that Edu encounters on his journey slip into facile cliches (the precious vegan, the eccentric artist, etc). Young Brazilian filmmakers Leandro Goddinho and Paulo Menezes have created a film that’s uncomfortably funny to watch. It leaves viewers wanting to laugh about Edu’s absurd predicament, without being sure whether that’s acceptable or not. Brazilian gay men who lived in Berlin during their youth (myself included) are used to putting on a half-smile, and finding humour in the most preposterous of situations. Bottoms up, everyone!

Paradise Europe (aka You are so Wonderful) premiered on August 3rd at the Pardi di Domani section of the 76th Locarno Film Festival on August 3rd. It won the Silver Leopard.

By Victor Fraga - 03-08-2023

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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