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    Best Documentary
  • Sao Paulo Int'l Film Festival

  • Festin Lisbon Film Festival

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Portuguese and Spanish with English subtitles

The Welles Raft is an account of Orson Welles unfinished film in Brazil.

Funded by Nelson Rockefeller and the U.S. Office of Inter-American Affairs, Orson Welles It’s All True was to be central to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy. Featuring three stories about Latin America, Welles accepted the challenge of directing a film that adhered to the policy’s goal to improve relations with the nations of Central and South America.

The Welles Raft focuses on one of the three stories inspired by the real-life event of four Brazilian fishermen who set sail from Fortaleza to Rio de Janeiro on a simple raft (jangada) to file their grievances against an economically exploitative system. The result was a bill signed by President Vargas that entitled the jangadeiros to the same benefits awarded to all union laborers.

The re-enactment of this epic voyage was to become the centerpiece of It’s All True. But during filming, the leader of the jangadeiros, Jacaré, fell from a jangada and was swallowed by a treacherous ocean current.

Welles was allowed to finish shooting Four Men on a Raft with a minimal budget and crew, but the completion of It’s All True was abandoned.


“The most striking aspect of The Welles Raft is its editing. It is always a pleasure to come across documentaries that are inventive in the way they combine image and sound, archival material and contemporary footage. The opening sequence articulates in a fast and sophisticated way the narration, the voice of Orson Welles, images of cinema, and of nature. Petrus Cariry and Firmino Holanda collage were never conceived to coexist, resulting in an unexpected experience for the viewer.” – Bruno Carmelo, Meio Amargo

About the Director
Petrus Cariry was born on December 28, 1977 in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil. He is a director and cinematographer, known for O Grão (2007), Mother and Daughter (2011), Clarisse ou Alguma Coisa Sobre Nós Dois (2015), and O Barco (2018). He directed some short movies such as Dos Restos e das Solidões (2006), A Montanha Mágica (2009), and O Som do Tempo (2010).

Firmino Holanda is known as an editor, writer, director, actor, screenwriter, and music composer. He is known for The Welles Raft (2019), Mother and Daughter (2011), and A Praia do Fim do Mundo (2021).

Notes on Film

“The Welles Raft has stemmed from the desire to explore more vertically some themes linked to the trajectory of Orson Welles here in Brazil. In 2005, we made the medium-length film Cidadão Jacaré, a TV documentary more focused on the figure of Manuel Jacaré, highlighted as a representative of the struggles in favor of the so unassisted Jangadeiros from Ceará (this film, in turn, had as its matrix the book Orson Welles in Ceará, published in 2001). In the new film, now feature-length, the narrative focus is much closer to the human figure of Orson Welles. Even so, without ever losing sight of the central issues that motivated our sea workers to make that epic journey to Rio de Janeiro, on a fragile vessel, to demand their rights from the government.

Manuel Jacaré was acting in Orson Welles’ unfinished It’s All True. So he, along with Manuel Preto and Tatá, are characters that are part of the local memory. Manuel Jacaré, however, although famous in his time, was forgotten and was remembered again about three decades ago. Making a film about him and his companions is an attempt to make so many other Brazilians, perhaps for the first time, also hear about these symbols of popular resistance.”

– Petrus Cariry and Firmino Holanda, Directors