A film by Maria Ramos
2018, 139 minutes
No. 194

A riveting behind-the-scenes look at the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female President, The Trial documents the “judicial political” trial, first at the House of Representatives and then at the Senate. The film focuses on the President’s Defense Team: her lawyer José Eduardo Cardoso and two senators who struggle to prove the President’s innocence against a majority vote by a Congress riddled with corruption.  

A tale of betrayal and corruption, the film presents Rousseff’s personal story: herself imprisoned and tortured by the country’s former military dictatorship, she now faces impeachment accused of fiscal crimes and corruption charges.  Rousseff declares herself innocent and accuses the right-wing opposition of perpetrating a Parliamentary Coup d’état. The principal architect of the impeachment is Vice-President Michel Temer, one of her former allies.

Granted unique access to the defense team, left wing senators and to President Rousseff herself, Ramos’ technique is rigorously observational, capturing telling physical and conversational interactions in the private and political sphere while offering viewers a glimpse of the outdoor mass demonstrations.

The Trial powerfully illustrates how this impeachment triggers a profound political crisis in Brazil. It looks at the collapse of the democratic institutions at the very heart of the crisis, while reflecting on the dangers facing so many democracies throughout the world.

Official Selection, Berlin Film Festival
Winner, Best Feature Documentary, DocumentaMadrid
Winner, Best Film, Visions du Reel
Winner, Audience Award, IndieLisboa

"Remarkable. Riveting. A crucial record of the travesty behind the impeachment hearings of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff." – Variety 

“The Trial is horrifyingly prescient. It is a film about power, corruption and reality, one that captures the atmosphere of unease and chaos that seems to dominate our 24/7 news cycle…. Ramos, who mentions the traditions of Dutch documentary filmmaking as a major influence, similarly draws on the works some of the great Dutch painters. There’s the casual grandeur of Rembrandt, the focused order of Vermeer and the chaotic lines of Van Gogh in her work… The Trial is a perfect articulation for the current political climate around the world.” – Little White Lies