Date of Award

Summer 8-13-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Modern & Classical Languages

First Advisor

Leslie L. Marsh, Ph.D.


As a director Sandra Werneck consistently demonstrates her commitment to social issues impacting Brazilian society, from gay rights and AIDS awareness to child prostitution in her films. This thesis will discuss three feature-length films which address social conditions affecting non-hetero-normatively identifying people, women, youth and people with HIV. Werneck’s films offer a form of optimism by crafting an alternative space in which her characters may evolve and thrive by avoiding the victimization and stereotyping of her characters. Cinematic elements like the narrative structure, lighting, color and texture aid in articulating her support for human rights. This thesis is set against the backdrop of recent legislative developments protecting gay rights, impoverished children and families and increased AIDS research and education. The discussion is foregrounded by Brazil’s post-dictatorship re-democratization and contemporary Brazilian feminism, symbiotic with human rights movements based on the essential equality and equal treatment of all human beings.