Neighbouring Sounds

Neighbouring Sounds

Art Director:
  • Juliano Dornelles
Costume Designer:
  • Daniel Aragao

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Neighbouring Sounds (2012)

Also Known As: O Som Ao Redor

Opened: 08/24/2012 Limited

IFC Center08/24/2012 - 09/06/201214 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Genre: Brazilian Thriller (Portuguese w/English subtitles)

Rated: Unrated


A palpable sense of unease hangs over a single city block in the coastal town of Recife, Brazil. Home to prosperous families and the servants who work for them, the area is ruled by an aging patriarch and his sons. When a private security firm is reluctantly brought in to protect the residents from a recent spate of petty crime, it unleashes the fears, anxieties and resentments of a divided society still haunted by its troubled past. Kleber Mendonca Filho's Neighboring Sounds is a thrilling debut by a major new voice in world cinema.

Director's Statement

Recife, in the state of Pernambuco, is Brazil's fifth largest city, and it shares most of the problems common to large urban areas in the country, or in Latin America. Stubal is the younger, quieter neighbor of Boa Viagem, the city's most expensive real estate, an area now taken over by tall buildings of all shapes and sizes. Setubal is a smaller, more family oriented urban neighborhood, and the setting for Neighboring Sounds. Most of this film comes from notes on life happening just across the street, or right outside my window, or under the neighbor's roof. The peculiar tensions which make Brazilian society tick are reflected in the weight and look of local architecture, which is chaotically eclectic.

Neighboring Sounds finds its heart in the human element as it tries to deal with everyday life in such an environment. We have a group of characters, men, women and children, with their own inner and outer tensions. They are part of a social landscape of masters and servants which may even look modern, but at its very foundations is not. These class relations are addressed not only in the way servants gain restricted access to the property of the masters (cars, houses, apartments), but also in the way the rich live out a paranoid life through the crippling fear of urban violence.

Fear is expressed as architecture, be it through the ugly designs of steel grates, electric fences and high perimeter walls, or through remnants of a local history marked by late 19th century slavery found in the quartos de empregada, or maid's room, still part of modern architectural design in Brazil. These rooms are an obvious sign of racism disguised as a hot, windowless trap.

One final note: the sound. The very organic nature of life in such an environment seems to have so many different layers of sound at any time of the day. They are not only cues to people living their lives in private, but also information about loneliness, joy, neurosis, happiness or fear, no matter how noisy a place can be, or how quiet.

-- Kleber Mendonca Filho, Director