A controversial new film about the life of the phenomenally popular Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has failed to build the desired hype and is getting lukewarm responses at the box office. These are not the reactions that the film-makers – nor the presidency – might have wanted but then again this film has caused a storm of controversy in Brazil.

Many commentators have expressed outrage that a fictionalised, hagiographic biopic should be launched as Mr Lula da Silva enters the last year of his presidency, hoping to use his enormous popularity to elect his chosen successor in October’s election.

The film depicts the childhood journey by lorry from impoverished origins in Brazil’s north-east to Santos and later São Paulo; the years as a child labourer selling oranges and shining shoes; the abuse from an alcoholic father; apprenticeship as a metalworker; the loss of his first wife and baby in childbirth; and his rise through the trade union movement during Brazil’s military dictatorship of 1964 to 1985.

Opposition politicians have demanded an inquiry into government contracts involving the film’s 27 corporate sponsors. José Serra, the likely opposition candidate in October, said it was a clear attempt to boost the chances of Dilma Rousseff, Mr Lula da Silva’s candidate.

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