The action takes place a little bit before April, 1964, when the President of Brazil, João Goulart, was overthrown. Marcelo, a journalist and novelist, goes through a very deep crisis when he sees his friends in prison. He has a relationship with Ada, a young woman from the rich bourgeoisie who has married a businessman. There is a real affinity between them since they are both intellectuals and progressives. However, she will never leave her husband and children. Marcelo becomes aware that he is incapable of acting, and that his love affair could become a pure and simple evasive action, a way of not committing himself in more serious causes. After his latest discussion with an old, disillusioned and falled intellectual, Marcelo understands that now is the time to take action.
"O desafio treats two intellectuals and carries on a critical discussion that is pretty personal. It is a self-criticism of the Brazilian intellectual who lives 'in peace' with the national poverty and who feels like everything is coming apart when he sees that his illusions of change add up to nothing. [...] This is a film that was shot in fifteen days with a very low budget, but it was made so that it would make a great impact. And it would have had a great impact at that right moment if the censorship had not blocked it. The climate evoked in the film is that which I myself lived through in the days that followed the overthrow of Goulart." (Paulo César Saraceni)
Paulo César Saraceni
Paulo César Saraceni was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1933. He is one of the most important directors of Brazilian Cinema Novo. In 1961 he attended courses at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome, and the following year he directed Porto das Caixas, his first full-length movie. He presented his film O Viajante at the 1999 Torino Film Festival.
Arraial do Cabo (1960), Porto das Caixas (1962), Integração Racial (1964), O Desafio (1965), Capitú (1968), A Casa Assasinada (1971), Amor, Carnaval e Sonhos (1972), Anchieta, José do Brasil (1977), Ao Sul do Meu Corpo (1982), Natal da Portela (1988), O Viajante (1998), Garrincha (2001), Banda de Ipanema (2001).
Director of photography: Guido Cosulich, Dib Lufti (operatore).
Editor: Ismar Porto.
Music: Mozart, Villa-Lobos, Vinicius de Morais, Zé Kéti, Edu Lobo, Caetano Veloso, Carlos Lira, J. de Paula.
Cast and characters: Isabella (Ada), Oduvaldo Vianna Filho (Marcelo), Sergio Brito (Vindustriale), Luiz Linhares (lo scrittore), Joel Barcellos e Hugo Carvana (amici di Marcelo), Gianina Singulani (moglie dello scrittore), Marilu Fiorani, Renata Graça, Couto Filho, Zé Kéti, Maria Betania.
Production company: Mário Fiorani, Produtora Cinematografica Imago, Mapa, Sérgio Saraceni.