Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


Benjamim, a world premiere by Monique Gardenberg, helps to define the new breed of talent re-establishing Brazilian cinema on the world stage.

Benjamim Zambraiais is an aging model whose moment of fame came some 30 years ago. Upon meeting young Ariela, he is immediately taken by her amazing resemblance to Castana, the great love of his life. But where Castana was sophisticated and politically aware, Ariela is young and naïve, susceptible to any promise of happiness. The chance meeting sends Benjamim off on a whirlwind of new emotions and old passions.

Gardenberg creates a savvy, hip world rich with music and style and populates it with a talented cast that's glorious to look at. And she pulls off an elaborate story structure by adopting different looks and feels that allow her to bounce with ease and flair between the two eras of Benjamim's life. These pieces intersect like a jigsaw puzzle to project his thoughts and memories.

The perfect period art direction adds panache, but Gardenberg does not shy away from letting Brazilian politics infiltrate the plot to add depth and importance. For, in the end, our hero is driven to the destiny he has long anticipated in his nightmares.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]