Monday, Jun 24 2024 | Time 08:16 Hrs(IST)

Cannes: 'Lula' depicts the art of political survival

Cannes, May 21 (UNI) Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has earned the rare distinction of becoming subject of a documentary film as a reigning head of state of a major country.
'Lula', directed by American filmmakers Oliver Stone and Rob Wilson, wowed the audience at the 77th Cannes Film Festival where it had its world premiere on Sunday.
The Brazilian president, affectionately called Lula by millions of his supporters in the South American nation, is portrayed in the 104-minute film as a champion of the poor and the working class who rose from poverty to the highest office in his country.
"Lula is one of the unique leaders in the world today. He is a working class man who came from the bottom of the social ladder," said Stone, famous for such internally acclaimed movies as 'Platoon' (1986), 'Wall Street' (1987) and 'JFK' (1991).
"Rich classes hate him," he added at the presentation ceremony of the documentary in Cannes.
Part of the Special Screenings section of the Cannes festival, which began on May 14, 'Lula' mainly focuses on the bribery and corruption scandal involving important political figures, including Lula, that rocked Brazil and led to his imprisonment.
Called 'Operation Car Wash', the investigation by prosecutor Sergio Moro focused on bribes paid to government and political personalities by Brazilian companies for favour.
In 2018, Lula was convicted and sentenced to jail for 12 years, a term later reduced to eight years. He was eventually released in 2019 after being in prison for 19 months following a Supreme Court ruling.
Lula went on to contest the presidential election in 2022, narrowly defeating controversial incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in a run-off.
Born in 1945, Lula became a metal worker at the age of 17 to support his family. In 1975, he became the president of the Steel Workers Union in Brazil. "There were no workers representing us in the National Assembly," says Lula in the film. "We want workers to rule their own country."
In 1980, Lula led the formation of the Workers Party (PT), mobilising a working class that he was part of. "I didn't need to be a Communist to fight for the poor," says Lula, who became a friend of the then Cuban president Fidel Castro in 1980.
Lula's first run for the office of president came in 1989. He lost and ran again five years later. He lost his third successive attempt too in 1998. However, his shift towards a moderate economic platform proved successful in 2002, handing him victory.
Lula received 61 percent votes in the 2002 election to become president with more votes than any of his predecessors. He had no college degree and business leaders lined up to congratulate him.
In his two terms as president between 2002 and 2012, Lula's welfare reforms, including the influential Bolsa Familia scheme that gave money to mothers for their children's food and clothing, lifted 20 million Brazilians out of poverty. As many as 39 million people reached the middle class during his two terms.
"I have seen a lot of global leaders and I believe Lula is one of the special persons," says Stone.
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