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Filmmaker Petra Costa joins cohosts Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher to talk about Brazil’s turbulent politics over the past few decades and how she was able to capture their operatic intensity in her new documentary, The Edge of Democracy. Petra grew up the child of political militants, who were jailed and then went into hiding during Brazil’s military dictatorship, which ended in the ’80s. However, she also had deep roots in the country’s political right wing. Her father’s family ran a construction company, a major player in the industry at the heart of the country’s legendary corruption. This unique family history grants Petra unparalleled access to the leaders of both the left and the right while shooting her film, but also informs her deep sense of personal conflict and remorse as events unfold. The film begins by heralding the dramatic rise of Lula, Brazil’s first leftist president since the end of the dictatorship. Petra is equally thrilled at the election of Lula’s chosen heir, Dilma Rousseff, the country’s first woman president, but mostly she is delighted by what appears to be the successful establishment of democracy in her country. Then, the forces of reaction start to stir … Petra acknowledges that many viewers draw parallels with the political crisis in the only country in the western hemisphere more populous than Brazil — though there are conspicuous differences. In one country, it’s a corrupt judge who successfully topples a sincere, well intentioned President, while in the other, an honorable prosecutor is unable to dislodge an utterly corrupt president. What’s strikingly similar is that the right wing triumphs in both countries while democracy loses.

Also, author Claire Vaye Watkins returns to recommend Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush.