August Willemsen (1936-2007) was a translator and writer who brought the poems of Fernando Pessoa and Carlos Drummond de Andrade to the Dutch-speaking world. Driven by a fascination with the Portuguese language and Brazilian literature, he traveled to Brazil multiple times. Between 1967 and 1984, he captivatingly documented his experiences in his unparalleled “Brazilian Letters” (1985), timeless in their literary expressiveness with which he articulated his confrontations; the contact with and simultaneous distance from the country full of contradictions. The epistolary novel inspired filmmaker Frederieke Jochems to follow in his footsteps and investigate what drew him to this immense country.

Does a Brazilian soul reside in the charming literator? The film is composed of images from the Bijlmermeer, where he lived, and landscapes in Brazil, interwoven with letter fragments and magnificent television appearances. His complex relationships with women, friends, and his daughter are revealed through their testimonies, with unwavering loyalty to “their” Guus. With graphic novel animations, the extremes that characterized his life—his passion for language, literature, and music, and his tendency toward self-destruction—are depicted in the film.

A film about writer and translator August Willemsen by Frederieke Jochems


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