The 4K digitally restored version of the first feature film João and the Knife (1971) by Dutch director George Sluizer (The Vanishing, Dark Blood) has been selected for Cannes Classics. The legendary Jan de Bont lensed the film and revered Brazilian actor Joffre Soares excelled in the role of the suffering João, as did the ingénue Ana Maria Miranda as Maria. João and the Knife was filmed in Brazil and is a full 4K restoration of the original 35mm Techniscope camera negative.
Cannes Classics is part of the Cannes Film Festival Official Selection and showcases vintage films and masterpieces of the history of cinema in restored prints. Besides João and the Knife, Cannes Classics will host amongst others a newly struck 70mm print of Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
When, in 1971, Dutch filmmaker George Sluizer decided to produce and direct his adaptation of the intensely lyrical novel João and the Knife by Odylo Costa Filho he was immediately captivated both by the landscape of north eastern Brazil and its vibrant inhabitants. The titular João is a poor and elderly hunter and cattle rancher who marries Maria, a 19-year old village girl, against logic and all advice. Unable to give his young bride children, he travels to the Amazonia region to earn money to give her a better life.
On completion, João and the Knife was selected for both Berlinale and Edinburgh Festival competition in 1973. It was the 1973 Brazilian submission to the Academy Awards for consideration in the best foreign language film category. As importantly, the local public took this “Dutch” Brazilian film to their hearts. João and the Knife was chosen for the festivals of Santos (where Joffre Soares was voted best actor and Sluizer won the award for best script) and Rio de Janeiro, where it won the Quality Prize.
After the death of George Sluizer in 2014, a collaboration started between Sluizer Films, Stoneraft Films, Haghefilm Digital and the EYE Film Museum to digitize and restore his oeuvre. A DVD box with all restored and digitized feature films and documentaries directed by Sluizer will be released later in the year.