Brazilian director Gabriel Mascaro has been making extraordinary documentaries for a few years now (High-Rise, Defiant Brasilia), but August  Winds is his narrative debut – and it’s one of the most significant breakthroughs of the year. Meditations on life and death aren’t exactly few and far between, but you won’t recognize Mascaro’s approach. With a subdued plot, August Winds is a film of quietly unfolding sensual pleasure, punctuated with warm humour, before it reaches its profoundly beautiful final image.

Shirley (Dandara de Morais), a gorgeous young woman, is in the countryside taking care of her aging grandmother when her diver boyfriend discovers a skull in the ocean. Then a corpse washes ashore. Youthful vitality and decay contrast throughout the film, evoking a sense of the confluence of time. Shot by the director himself, the stunning cinematography lends an optimistic beauty to the seemingly dark subject matter. At its heart, however, it’s  the touching performance from de Morais that anchors this poetic and observant tale.

Vancouver International Film Festival

Please note that the festival is for over 18s only