A MATADEIRA (The Killing machine)

(16 mm, 16 min, color, 1994)

Canudos was a little village in the impoverished Brazilian Northeast, founded by messianic leader Antônio Conselheiro and massacred to the death of the last of its 30 thousand inhabitants by a powerful army on October 5th 1897. The film tells the story of the Canudos massacre through the story of an English cannon, nicknamed “MATADEIRA" (Killer) by the locals, and which was transported across the Northeastern back country by twenty-one yokes of oxen in order to shoot one single shot.

Photo by Alex Sernambi: Pedro Cardoso
Photo by Alex Sernambi: Pedro Cardoso

Director: Jorge Furtado

Executive Producer: Nora Goulart
Written by:
Jorge Furtado
Alex Sernambi
Art Directors:
Fiapo Barth and Gaspar Martins
Music by:
Leo Henkin
Production Coordinator:
Sandro Dreyer
Giba Assis Brasil
Assistant Director:
Dainara Toffoli

A Casa de Cinema PoA Production

Main Cast:
Pedro Cardoso (Professor, Prudente de Morais,
/ Peasant, Antônio Conselheiro, Reverend)
Carlos Cunha Filho (male narration)
Lisa Becker (female narration)



  • 22nd Gramado Film Festival, 1994:
    Special Prize to the Art Direction, Best Direction of Regional Film, Best Cinematography of Regional Film.
  • 11th Rio-Cine Festival, Rio de Janeiro, 1994:
    Best Actor (Pedro Cardoso), Prize for Cinematographic Language Achievement


"The new short by Furtado is structured like a collage, with a combination of scenes played by actors, animation, period photos and extracts of recent documentaries. The tone is deliberately extreme: the sets are ultra-fake, the colors, always bright, the histrionic acting – led by the charismatic Pedro Cardoso, who plays several roles. A MATADEIRA/ THE KILLING MACHINE takes a fresh look at the main interpretations of the Canudos episode."
(Amir Labaki, Folha de São Paulo)

"THE KILLING MACHINE honorably follows in the line of work developed by Jorge Furtado in ISLAND OF FLOWERS and THIS IS NOT YOUR LIFE. Brilliantly realized, the film offers us a version of the end of Canudos that is both tragic and mocking, and finds a possible relation between the past and the present Brazilian reality.
(Tuio Becker, Zero Hora, 18/08/94)

"This is outstanding work by Jorge Furtado. In Euclides da Cunha’s 'Os Sertões', he found the story of the Matadeira (the Killing Machine), the cannon the Brazilian army bought from German manufacturers Krupp to eliminate the followers of Conselheiro. Making use of fictional resources, in the line of the fake documentary that has brought him recognition, and animation (clay figures by Mestre Vitalino symbolize the struggle of the Northeastern peasant against the military), Furtado has made a remarkable film, but it could well have done without the impertinent jokes."
(Maria do Rosário Caetano, Jornal de Brasília, 05/10/97)