Directed by Bruno Barreto, based on a book written by Fernando Gabeira, a Brazilian political activist. It dealt with the political movements of the 1960s in Brazil during the Military dictatorship. It is a great film!! It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film of the year in the United States.
A Hora da Estrela (1985) [Hour of the Star]
Directed by Suzana Amaral and also based on the novel of the same title written by Clarice Lispector (Born in Ukrain but moved to Brasil at 2 months so pretty much Brazilian). The main character, a very naive Macabea has just moved from a rural town in Northern Brasil into the city of Rio de Janeiro because her aunt passed away and she was looking for a job. And everyone is treating her with a lot of misundertanding and she finds it really hard to fit into that society. The novel and film deal with issues of marginalization of people from rural areas that move to the city.
These are some MUST SEE
Others I have seen:
Pixote, a Lei do Mais Fraco (Pixote, the Law of the Weakest) by Hector Babenco (1980) *****
Also really great, it was very sad and dark though. It's about street children.
Central do Brasil (Central Station) by Walter Salles Jr. (1998) ****
A scribe that helped people write letters for the illiterate at a train station. She somehow ended up trying to help a boy whose mom just died in a tragic accident try to find his dad.
Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos (Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands by Bruno Barreto (1976)
This was from Jorge Amado's novel. I personally find lots of issues with his literature and so I didn't like it for the consistent depiction of women as exotic sex objects/machines. I have lots of issues with his literature but he's famous for creating Baianidade. He was born and lived in Bahia very near where I was staying.
Cidade de Deus (2002)
Orfeu Negro (1959)
This is a good reference too (Thanks wikipedia):