Motel Destino, Karim Aïnouz’s sensual thriller


After a prolific year that saw the theatrical release of Firebrand, In Competition at the Festival in 2023, and the re-release of the documentary Mariner of the Mountains, which had been presented as a Special Screening in 2021, the Brazilian director Karim Aïnouz is back with a new feature film, Motel Destino, a story of erotic wandering, with shimmering colours. For this film, screened In Competition, he has returned to film Brazil.

Ceará, in the northeast of Brazil. 30 degrees Celsius all year. Every night at the Motel Destino, dangerous games of desire, power and violence are played out of the sight of prying eyes. One night, young Heraldo arrives, and disrupts the rules of the motel.

Karim Aïnouz wrote this film with one of the students of his own screenwriting school in his hometown of Fortaleza. The glowing neon monochromes are from Hélène Louvart, who had already worked with the director on The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão and Firebrand. They set the tone for the film: sensual and electric.


“I love colour. It’s like blood for me: colour is the reflection of a heartbeat.”

– Karim Aïnouz



But Motel Destino is certainly a film noir. A portrait both intimate and universal of a youth deprived of a future and of hope by a despotic elite, against whom violence is the only weapon left to assert one’s desire and vitality. At the same time, Karim Aïnouz took inspiration from a tradition of Brazilian cinema, the pornographic comedy (pornochanchada), a very popular genre in the 70s.

The director has returned to Brazil after navigating between Germany (THF: Central Airport), Great Britain (Firebrand) and Algeria (Mariner of the Mountains).