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Keeper of Promises
(O Pagador de Promessas)

Original poster in Portuguese
Directed by Anselmo Duarte
Produced by Francisco de Castro
Anselmo Duarte
Oswaldo Massaini
Written by Dias Gomes (play)
Anselmo Duarte
Starring Leonardo Villar
Glória Menezes
Norma Bengell
Dionísio Azevedo
Music by Gabriel Migliori
Cinematography H.E. Fowle
Editing by Carlos Coimbra
Distributed by Cinedistri (Original release)
Globo Vídeo (Re-release)
Lionex Films Inc. (USA)
Doperfilme (Portugal)
Release date(s) March 24, 1964 (New York City, USA)
Running time 98 min
Language Portuguese

O Pagador de Promessas (Portuguese for Keeper of Promises) is a 1962 Brazilian drama film directed by Anselmo Duarte. Its title translates literally as The Payer of Promises, but the film has been known by several other names in the Anglosphere, such as Keeper of Promises, The Given Word and The Promise.

Duarte, who was also one of the film's producers, adapted the screenplay himself from the famous stage play written by Dias Gomes. It won the Palme d'Or at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival,[1] becoming the first (and only, to date) Brazilian film to achieve such a feat. A year later, it also became the first Brazilian and South American film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.



Zé do Burro (Leonardo Villar) is a landowner from Nordeste. His best friend is a donkey. When his donkey falls terminally ill, Zé promises to a Candomblé priestess that if his donkey recovers, he will give away his land to the poor and carry a cross all the way from his farm to the Saint Bárbara Church in Salvador, Bahia, where he will offer the cross to the local priest. Upon the recovery of his donkey, Zé leaves on his journey. The movie begins as Zé, followed by his wife Rosa (Glória Menezes), arrives outside the church. The local priest (Dionísio Azevedo) refuses to accept the cross once he hears about Zé's "pagan" pledge and the reasons behind it. Everyone attempts to manipulate the innocent and naïve Zé. The local Candomblé worshippers, for example, want to use him as a leader against the discrimination they suffer from the Roman Catholic Church. The sensationalist newspapers transform his promise to give away his land into a "communist" call for land reform (which still is a very controversial issue in Brazil). When Zé is shot by the police to prevent his way into the church, the Candomblé worshippers put his dead body on the cross and force their way into the church.

Main cast

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

Cannes Film Festival

Cartagena Film Festival

  • Special Jury Prize – Anselmo Duarte (won)

San Francisco International Film Festival

  • Golden Gate Award for Best Film – Anselmo Duarte (won)
  • Golden Gate Award for Best Musical Score – Gabriel Migliori (won)


External links



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