Come August 17, distributors Anywhere Road and Red Envelope Entertainment are anticipating that you'll be exhausted from an unceasing flow of blockbusters and in the mood for a relaxing musical drama from Brazil. According to IndieWire, Antonia will be released on that day, and its subject matter does seem to be well-suited for a mid-summer break. I saw Antonia at AFI Fest in Los Angeles last fall and found it to be an engaging, low-key pleasure.

When we first meet Preta (Negra Li), Lena (Cindy Mendes), Barbarah (Leilah Moreno) and Mayah (Jacqueline Simão), they are back-up singers struggling to get by. They live in a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood in São Paolo but have dreams of fame and fortune. Dazzling the crowd when they finally get a chance to showcase their vocal abilities, they quickly draw the attention of fast-talking Marcelo Diamante (Thaíde), who explains that "Diamante" (Portuguese for "diamond") represents the diamonds that the girls will soon be wearing if they let him manage their fledging group. The ladies roll their eyes and question his abilities, but he starts landing them gigs and the group -- called Antonia -- slowly begins to climb the ladder of success.

Before they can get there, they face plenty of obstacles, ranging from domestic issues to musical clashes to very real peril for the women in a male-dominated world. The beauty of Antonia is its down-to-earth nature. These women are not super-heroines, nor do they expect any special treatment just because they can sing like angels. They just want a fair shake. Filmmaker Tata Amaral spent three years researching the project and the authenticity cries out from every frame. The Brazilian web site has an English version with a trailer and much more information.