by Carla Di Bonito and Adriana Ellacott
Marcelia Cartaxo is one of the dames of the silver screen in Brazil. Born in Cajazeiras, a small town in the state of Paraiba, this light built in body but of a fierce personality actress ran freely on the streets as a child, where together with a group of friends, a kid’s theatre, performing for the local residents, was created. This was the start of her path to stardom.
It was playing the part of Macabea in the film The Hour of the Star, directed by Suzana Amaral, that Cartaxo achieved one of the most coveted awards in the world – The Silver Bear, for best actress during the 1986 Berlin International Film Festival. She was the first Brazilian to take such a prestigious foreign award. The film was an adaptation of the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector’s homonymous masterpiece book.
From this pure and naïve character, Cartaxo jumps to playing Laurita, a prostitute who shares a squalid accommodation with a controversial black transvestite (Lazaro Ramos) in the acclaimed film “Madame Sata”, directed by Karim Ainouz and co-produced by Donald Ranvaud.
Cartaxo went on making other films, but it was in the film Batismo de Sangue, directed by Helvecio Batton, that tells the story of Frei Tito during the dictatorship in Brazil, that she was about to give another dramatic performance.
It was playing Pacarrete that Cartaxo once again won the best actress award in the Festival de Gramado, where the film was awarded 8 Kikitos, including her character. The film was also acclaimed in the Shangai International Film Festival.
Marcelia also worked behind the cameras and directed four of her own short films, expressing in them a sensitive vision and similar essence to the characters she played in the past and a nod to the place she was born in the Northeast of Brazil. The latest work of Cartaxo was in 2021 where she plays Helen, a film by Andre Meirelles, that tells the true story of a young girl and her grandmother living a hard reality in one of the first Quilombos of Sao Paulo. Her most recent film include a leading role in the feature Lispectoriano, directed by Renata Pinheiro and Sergio Oliveira. Her up and coming projects include Cangaco Novo, a television series produced by Globo. Furthermore , Marcelia has been invited to play the part of Raquel in the film Luzinete e eu, written and directed by Carla Di Bonito and produced by Boto Films and Underdogs Filmes – Brasil. The film is a feature developed from the award-winning short film Luzinete, telling the true story of two sisters and the different paths they led.