The Edge of Democracy

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A cautionary tale for these times of democracy in crisis - the personal and political fuse to explore one of the most dramatic periods in Brazilian history. Combining unprecedented access to leaders past and present, including Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva, with accounts of her own family's complex political and industrial past, filmmaker Petra Costa (ELENA) witnesses their rise and fall and the tragically polarized nation that remains.


  • Dilma Rousseff
  • Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
  • Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva
  • Sergio Moro
  • Jovair Arantes
  • José Eduardo Cardozo
  • Eduardo Cunha
  • Carlos Henrique Gaguim
  • Paulo Maluf
  • Roberto Requião

Did You Know?


  • Had its world premiere on the opening night at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
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    • Petra Costa: A Greek writer said that democracy is only working when the rich feel threatened. Otherwise, oligarchy takes over. From father to son, son to grandson, from grandson to great grandson, and so successively.
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Jun 19, 2019

A mournful but clear-eyed look at one of the many governments on the planet currently either going to or simmering in Hell, Petra Costa's The Edge of Democracy is as much essay film as a primer on Brazil's recent history.

Metacritic review by John DeFore
John DeFore
The Hollywood Reporter
Jun 19, 2019

Costa’s use of news footage, tapes of incriminating conversations that were made public and acts of self-serving betrayal gives The Edge Of Democracy the feel of an All The President’s Men-style political thriller. Further revelations about her own family and the allegiances of earlier generations turn that aspect of the story into something with the sweep of The Godfather.

Allan Hunter
Screen Daily
Jun 18, 2019

In laying out the facts, Costa is, for the most part, posing a series of sad questions rather than supplying the answers; in truth, she may not know whether she’s documenting a stormy political era or chronicling the end of something.

Metacritic review by Steve Pond
Steve Pond