It is difficult to know where to generically place Lázaro Ramos’ Executive Order. Set in a near future where Brazil’s Black population are forcibly deported to Africa, the film’s uncanny urban realism and mounting political horror mark it out as classic dystopia. Yet as the narrative unfolds, and the world it depicts begins to seem entirely, terrifyingly possible, the fixity of its categorisation begins to falter.

Through this refusal to fully submerge into an alternate, removed reality, Executive Order acts not only as a politically potent experiment in genre filmmaking, but as an ominous augury of a future that is fast approaching. Told through the eyes of cousins Antonio (Alfred Enoch), André (Seu Jorge) and Antonio’s partner Capitu (Taís Araújo), the build-up to the executive order begins with chilling familiarity. Sponsored government advertisements urge Black people to return to Africa, while racist graffiti covers the streets. Everywhere, the underhanded machinations of the state leak into the public consciousness, laying the groundwork for unfettered violence.

Yet there is resistance too, and Ramos excels at locating the affective among the oppressive. Eschewing complex world-building for intimate character work, Ramos and his leads fight for the personal amongst the political: emotionally raw moments of crisis sit alongside warm, affectionate exchanges, crafting a stirring portrait of Black solidarity, love and defiance that is never narratively overshadowed by the state’s nefarious cruelty.

Executive Order speaks fiercely to the resurgence of far-right politics both in Brazil and internationally, but its timeliness is not limited to this moment. Following the blood-soaked legacy of the slave trade to its natural conclusion, Executive Order holds up a mirror to the deep rot within our society, urging a confrontation with our most uncomfortable histories. “How did we let it get like this?” André laments. It is a question with which we must all contend.



CAST: Alfred Enoch, Seu Jorge, Taís Araújo, Adriana Esteves, Renata Sorrah

DIRECTOR: Lázaro Ramos

WRITERS: Lázaro Ramos, Lusa Silvestre, Aldri Anunciação, Elísio Lopes Jr.

SYNOPSIS: A newly decreed executive order forcibly deports Brazil’s Black population to Africa, forcing three friends to navigate a violent, hostile cityscape.