The 2014 FIFA World Cup will kick off next week in Brazil with a match between the host country and Croatia at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo. As the winner of five previous World Cup tournaments and the only country to have participated in every tournament since the competition was started in 1930, Brazil seems an especially appropriate country for the World Cup to be held. Brazil is also the home of Pelé, the sport’s most legendary player and arguably the most famous sports figure in the world.
Although Brazil has won the tournament more than any other country, this will only be the second time that Brazil has hosted the World Cup. Brazilians are undoubtedly hoping for a different outcome from the World Cup their country last hosted in 1950, when they lost to Uruguay in the final. On the other hand, despite Brazilians’ love of soccer, not everyone in the country is thrilled to see the tournament return. Many ordinary Brazilians have criticized the government for wasting money on building new stadiums, instead of spending it on health care, education, or raises for public sector workers. Frustration with the government’s excessive spending has resulted in several street protests, including a metro worker strike that has paralyzed São Paulo less than a week before the city hosts the opening game of the tournament, reports the BBC.
Obviously, Brazil is so much more than a country of unusually talented soccer, or “futebol,” players. Besides showing the world how to best play “the beautiful game,” Brazilians have also made important contributions to the world of cinema. With that in mind, here are five great Brazilian movies — in no particular order — that entertain, educate, provoke, and provide insights into this country’s rich cultural history.