Cinema Novo and Beyond

Cinema Novo
and Beyond

This series is  the result of Steve Seid’s trip to Brazil where he
was a juror at Videobrasil in São Paulo. The works in "Experimentos Tropicais"
are all on video and they are by artists from São Paulo, Rio, Belo Horizonte and
Salvador. A large percentage of the works shown are U.S. premières and often they are by
artists who have not been screened in the U.S..

Brazilian cinema burst onto international screens in the 1960s and 1970s with something
new called Cinema Novo. Reacting against a Hollywood-dominated domestic studio
system that produced escapist entertainment, filmmakers such as Nelson Pereira dos Santos,
Glauber Rocha, Leon Hirszman, and Carlos Diegues strove to create works that would express
an authentic Brazilian voice and identity. The results were both socially and artistically
complex, a Brazilian brand of modernism (and in the case of Glauber Rocha, with hindsight
we can say postmodernism). Cinema Novo variously incorporated the “tropicalist”
indigenous and African-derived traditions, rhythms, and colors of Bahia—the
desperately parched but culturally rich Northeast—with the most sophisticated (often
witty) analysis of class relations and urban politics.

Like the concurrent French New Wave and neorealism before it, Cinema
Novo was the product of critics/theoreticians turned filmmakers, and vice versa. But
Carlos Diegues famously said, “We were making political films when the New Wave was
still talking about unrequited love.” Moreover, while making art dealing with issues
of poverty, social instability, and disenfranchisement, Brazilian filmmakers had to cope
with those very frightening realities themselves. The repressive effects of the so-called
April Fool’s Day coup of 1964 are reflected both on the screen and in the lives of
filmmakers, including Glauber Rocha, who went into exile.

Cinema Novo and Beyond showcases the variety of exuberant, provocative,
visually stunning feature films, as well as very important short documentary films of the
movement; and it also introduces us to the Udegrudi, the adventurous Underground
cinema whose name is a purposeful bastardization of the English word. The series includes
films by the next generation of directors, such as Hector Babenco and Bruno Barretto, who
adapted the lessons of Cinema Novo to their own creative ends.

Cinema Novo and Beyond: Catalog

The retrospective is accompanied by a 168-page illustrated catalog with
essays by Brazilian filmmakers as well as scholars and critics from around the world.
($15, sold at the PFA Box Office and the Museum Store.)

Cinema Novo and Beyond is a collaboration between the Ministry of
Culture, Brazil, and the Department of Film and Video, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Special thanks to the Consulate General of Brazil in New York for its support. The program
was organized by Jytte Jensen with the collaboration of Ismail Xavier and José Carlos
Avellar. New prints and subtitling are courtesy of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture,
Audio-Visual Department; Cinemateca Brasileira; and Riofilme. The exhibition was made
possible by a generous contribution by Iara Lee and George Gund III. Additional funding
has been provided by Vitae—Apoio a Cultura, Educação e Promoção Social;
Transbrasil; Gazeta Mercantil; and the International Council of The Museum of
Modern Art. All prints circulated by Cowboy Booking International.

Quotations in our
notes from Robert Stam and others are from Brazilian Cinema (Robert Stam and Randal
Johnson, ed.) and Jump Cut.

Saturday January 2

Antonio das Mortes 5:00, 8:35

Glauber Rocha (Brazil,

(O dragão da maldade
contra o santo guerreiro). The explosive modernist aesthetic of Cinema Novo
crystalized in Glauber Rocha’s Antonio das Mortes. Part samurai, part Sergio
Leone, and just as obviously influenced by no one, this is a tale of true desperados:
starving peasants and their spiritually desperate exploiters in the parched and punishing sertão.
Antonio das Mortes (a character first introduced in Black God, White Devil, see
February 13), a hired gun for the landowners, is the most notorious killer of cangaceiros,
peasant rebel-bandits in the backlands. The film deals with Antonio’s coming to
political consciousness in the face of natives who are claiming squatters’ rights, of
the god-struck young woman who is their spiritual leader, and of the corruption and greed
of the landowners he works for. In open-air opera and silent shuffling ballet, spoken
verse and sung lore, melodrama of the absurd and gritty Western, Rocha transforms native
art, mystical traditions, vibrant colors, and the lore of the cangaceiros to his
own flamboyant uses to show “the two faces of vengeance—hatred and love.”

• Written
by Rocha. Photographed by Alfonso Beato. With Maurício do Valle, Odete Lara, Othon
Bastos, Hugo Carvana, Rosa Maria Penna. (95 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles,
Color, 35mm)

Assault on the Pay Train

Roberto Farias
(Brazil, 1962)

(Assalto ao trem
pagador). The heist-film genre is dirtied up with a hectic neorealist, class-based
grit in Roberto Farias’s first major work, shot in the streets and on the run in
chaotically vibrant Rio de Janeiro. Six men bound together by poverty and desperation
ambush a pay train, but cannot spend their sudden wealth until suspicion passes.
Carelessness, greed, and deceit all threaten the heist’s success, but the true
barrier, Farias implies, remains Brazil’s immovable class and racial hierarchy, where
the poor, no matter their hidden wealth, remain doomed to die in shacks and sheds. The
film’s unpolished technique and periodically amateurish acting, combined with the
sheer raw energy of Farias’s vision, helped create one of the first realized
embodiments of Cinema Novo’s filmic street theater and its desire to, as Carlos
Diegues stated, “give human form to fundamental conflicts, to make the people the
center and master of the cinematic instrument.”—J. Sanders

• Written
by Farias, Ainor Azevedo, Luiz Carlos Barreto. Photographed by Amleto Daissé. With
Eliezer Gomes, Luiza Maranhão, Reginaldo Faria. (90 mins, In Portuguese with English
subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

Friday January 8

The Given Word 7:30

Anselmo Duarte
(Brazil, 1962)

(O pagador de
promessas). Winner of the 1962 Palme d’or at Cannes, The Given Word was
one of the first films to draw international attention to the new Brazilian cinema. Half
angry neorealism, half Buñuelian satire, it centers around a rural peasant, Ze, who
carries a massive wooden cross through thirty miles of parched countryside to the city to
honor the saint who cured his sick donkey. When he finally collapses at his destination, a
church with the saint’s icon, the head priest sneeringly refuses him admittance,
claiming that Ze’s pilgrimage is based on pagan idolatry, black magic, and cannot
represent “proper” faith. Ze, confused but stubborn, camps out on the church
steps with his donkey and his cross, while behind him pimps, poets, policemen, and
passersby create a groundswell of opinion, advice, and finally, action. At the end, the
inflexibility of the Church (and of Ze’s naive purity) becomes jammed against the
film’s pulsating vision of street life, all music, movement, and exuberant, cluttered
noise.—J. Sanders

• Written
by Duarte, Dias Gomes, based on the play by Gomes. Photographed by Chick Fowle. With
Leonardo Vilar, Gloria Menezes, Dionísio Azevedo, Geraldo del Rey. (90 mins, In
Portuguese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

Porto das Caixas 9:15

Paulo César Saraceni
(Brazil, 1963)

A woman married to a
cruel, petty railroad worker lures men into her life with the intention of getting one of
them to kill her husband—her only way out of the poverty of life in a grimy little
backwater. The weapon of choice will be a small ax purchased at the market. In plot, Double
Indemnity meets The Postman Always Rings Twice. But in its blanched
cinematography and relentless exteriority, Porto das Caixas offers one of Cinema
Novo’s clearest expressions of theme: as Glauber Rocha wrote in his seminal essay,
“An Aesthetic of Hunger”: “Cinema Novo shows that the normal behavior of
the starving is violence; and the violence of the starving is not primitive….Is the
woman in Porto das Caixas primitive? From Cinema Novo it should be learned that an
aesthetic of violence, before being primitive, is revolutionary. It is the initial moment
when the colonizer becomes aware of the colonized.”

• Written
by Saraceni. Photographed by Mário Carneiro. With Irma Alvarez, Paulo Padilha, Reginaldo
Fario. (75 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

Saturday January 9

Land in Anguish 5:00, 8:55

Glauber Rocha (Brazil,

(Terra em transe/
Earth Entranced). Glauber Rocha’s most controversial film at home and
influential film abroad, this is a work of great imagination and beauty, an operatic
spectacle that nevertheless conveys a very true sense of the violence and irrationality
that characterize political life in a country scarred by underdevelopment. “Although
the style is irregular,” Rocha said, “you will see…that the camera is always
positioned as in a documentary.” The film, made in the wake of the coup of 1964,
takes place in a fictitious country, Eldorado, where a populist governor clashes with a
dictatorial leader. The protagonist is a poet-journalist who abandons his elite milieu for
radical politics, only to become as disenchanted with his new comrades as he was with the
cowardice of the intellectual class. “Saturated with anger, eloquence, personal and
collective hysteria, [this] is in no sense a Hollywood film, for it investigates rather
than exploits its emotions.” (Robert Stam)

• Written
by Rocha. Photographed by Luis Carlos Barreto, Dib Lutfi. With Jardel Filho, Paulo Autran,
José Lewgoy. (115 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

São Paulo, S/A 7:10

Luiz Sérgio Person
(Brazil, 1965)

Cinema Novo in its
second wave turned to urban themes and anti-illusionist depictions of the middle-class. São
Paulo, S/A, its title a pun—S/A means both “Incorporated” and
“Anonymous Society” (Sociedade Anonim)—deals with the alienated
labor and loves of Carlos, an upwardly mobile manager in an automotive parts factory.
Eventually, Carlos marries, has children, a home—all things he is meant to want, but
doesn’t. Lacking, paradoxically, the freedom of marginality afforded their
impoverished forbears like Antônio das Mortes or the wife in Porto das Caixas,
bourgeois characters are trapped in their success, as Jean-Claude Bernardet writes:
“Carlos, who is guided only by the opportunities that society offers him, who chooses
neither for himself nor for others, who has neither idea or action with which to oppose
the situation, who is capable only of flight, is ripe for fascism.”

• Written
by Person. Photographed by Ricardo Aranovich. With Walmor Chagas, Eva Wilma, Otelo Zeloni.
(90 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

Friday January 15

The Big City 7:30

Carlos Diegues
(Brazil, 1966)

Preceded by short:

for Childhood (Aloysio Raulino, Brazil,
1974). (Teremos Infância). Dealing with social questions such as poverty and
illiteracy, this film employs new formal strategies to engage the viewer. (13 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles,

(A grande cidade).
Carlos Diegues directed this poetic story of a young girl from the provinces who comes to
Rio to search for her fiancé, and finds him a hunted criminal in a city where gangsters
are heroes and politicians are the true desperados. The Big City is a kind of
modern morality play—one which, for all its poetry, inevitably comes to a violent
conclusion. Perhaps the most fascinating character in this tragic fable is Calunga, a
cheerful young black man who acts as our guide to Rio and the story—but whose
carefree role of mestre de jogo can’t help but implicate him in the tragedy.
“Cinema is not the reproduction of reality,” said Cinema Novo co-founder
Diegues. “It implies the creation of a parallel, alternative and verisimilar
universe. This verisimilitude nourishes itself more on the spirit and ideology of the
spectators than on their daily experience.”

• Written
by Diegues, Leopoldo Serran. Photographed by Fernando Duarte. With Anecy Rocha, Antònio
Pitanga, Leonardo Vilar. (85 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

In the Margin 9:25

Ozualdo Candeias
(Brazil, 1967)

(A margem).
Ozualdo Candeias has the distinction of being one of the few filmmakers to come to the
craft from truck driving! Making his first feature at age forty-five, this self-taught
“primitive” impressed his colleagues as the most marginal of the marginal. The
film became the first in the Udigrudi (Underground) movement, the marginal Cinema
Novo or the revolution within the revolution. Set among the slum dwellers along the banks
of São Paulo’s Tietê river—even then, extremely polluted—the film tells
two surreally tragic tales of love with few words and a torrent of images. “A
margem unpretentiously communicates a feeling of rare poetry and subdued audacity. Its
subtle modulation of fantasy and realism recalls the Vigo of L’Atalante… The
film literalizes the metaphor of ‘garbage aesthetic,’ eliciting flowers from
evil and stealing beauty from squalor.” (Robert Stam)

• Written
by Candeias. Photographed by Balarmindo Manccini. With Mário Benvenutti, Valéria Vidal,
Bentinho. (96 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

Saturday January 16

São Bernardo 5:00, 9:25

Leon Hirszman (Brazil,

Based on a 1934 novel by
Graciliano Ramos (author also of Vidas Secas), and capturing the spare style and
penetrating depth of the novel, São Bernardo tells of a man, Paulo, who rises
through every venal means imaginable to become master of the same plantation where he was
maltreated as a hired hand. He marries an educated woman with leftist leanings for the
respectability she will bring him, and proceeds to drive her to an early grave: the
master-slave relationship is all he knows. Set in the twenties (impressively recreated
here), São Bernardo resonates in any era: some critics saw it as an exposé of the
Brazilian economic miracle, like Paulo’s “miracle,” a cruel deception;
others, as about the genesis of a fascist. But if not rooted in time, it is a tale very
much rooted in place—in the land, and the “properties” of property.

• Written
by Hirszman, based on the novel by Graciliano Ramos. Photographed by Lauro Escorel. With
Othon Bastos, Isabel Ribeiro, Nildo Parente. (110 mins, In Portuguese with English
subtitles, Color, 35mm)

The Conspirators 7:05

Joaquim Pedro de
Andrade (Brazil, 1971)

Preceded by short:

Your Life, Not Your Death (Haroldo
Marinho Barbosa, Brazil, 1971). (Eu sua vida, eu não sou morte). Through the
relationship and interaction of two men and a woman, the manipulative mechanisms of
religion, the institution of family, and the state are exposed. Photographed by João Carlos Horta. (14 mins,
In Portuguese with English subtitles, 16mm)

(Os inconfidentes).
The Conspirators addressed the censorship and repression of its moment by setting
its story—about repression and failed rebellion—in eighteenth-century Brazil,
when it was a Portuguese colony. The film (funded by Italian television) tells of a
conspiracy of provincial intellectuals and local bigwigs who, inspired by the revolutions
in France and North America, devise heady plans to liberate Brazil. Only one, however,
Tiradentes (his name derived from his role in the town, tooth-extractor), is a proponent
of mass uprising. Though all are mercilessly imprisoned and interrogated by the regime,
Tiradentes will take the fall—and become a national hero with his own holiday. Actual
court transcripts and the literature of the period are woven into a screenplay that has a
distinctive poetic as well as political cadence. “Brilliantly directed with recurring
surrealistic flashes… De Andrade [establishes] the concept, equally valid for
contemporaries, that the fate of the nation is decided in prison by the extent to which
political wards resist or buckle under torture.” (Variety)

• Written
by Andrade, Eduardo Escorel, based on the court papers and the novel Romanceiro do
inconfidência by Cecília Meireles. Photographed by Pedro de Morales. With José
Walker, Luis Linhares, Paulo César Pereio. (110 mins, In Portuguese with English
subtitles, Color, 35mm)

Friday January 22

The Amulet of Ogum 7:00

Nelson Pereira dos
Santos (Brazil, 1974)

Preceded by short:

Best Friend (Tânia Savietto, Brazil,
1982). (O mehor amigo do homem). Although apparently dealing frivolously with a
volatile subject, this documentary is a forceful indictment of racial relations in Brazil.
(10 mins, In Portuguese with
English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

(O amuleto de Ogum).
Dos Santos moved away from the increasing avant-gardism of Cinema Novo with this
film made “for the people.” It is a magical thriller—both a gangster film
and a celebration of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé as a key element in popular
culture. A young man from the impoverished Northeast, Gabriel (played by dos Santos’s
son, Ney Sant’ana, an actor in the Pasolini mode), becomes a denizen of Rio’s
violent outskirts. Protected from harm by a ritual amulet given him by a Candomblé
priest, this bulletproof boy catches the attention of the local crime boss. Gabriel’s
odyssey from innocence to underworld, death, and resurrection is told in the form of a
popular ballad whose singer announces the film’s magical-realist premise:
“I’m going to tell you a story that really happened and which I just
invented.” Dos Santos: “The camera is a believer.”

• Written
by dos Santos, based on the novel by Francisco Santos. Photographed by Hélio Silva, José
Cavalcanti, dos Santos. With Jofre Soares, Ney Sant’Ana, Anecy Rocha, Emmanuel
Cavalcanti. (112 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

Uirá, An Indian’s
Search for God 9:20

Gustavo Dahl (Brazil,

Preceded by short:

of RIches (Vladimir Carvalho, Brazil,
1975). (A pedra da riqueza). A group of sertaneaw6kx from the Sabugi
valley decide to give up farming and hope to make money in a very different field of work.
Photographed by Manuel Clemente.
(15 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

(Uirá, um índio em
busca de Deus). A work of “anthropological fiction,” Uirá shows the
degradation and destruction of the Brazilian Indian way of life in a story set in 1939 and
shot in the Maranhão, a desolate area between the Northeast and the Amazonian forests. In
despair over his son’s death at the hands of whites, an Urubu Indian sets off with
his family in search of Maíra, the creator of the universe. During the course of his
trip, Uirá is harassed and then exploited by his white government protectors until,
suspecting that he is indeed a prisoner, he flees to his fate. “Avoiding the twin
extremes of racist vilification and noble savage idealization, Uirá treats its native subject with rare respect and
dignity, even while it offers a provocative critique of our own civilization and
values” (Robert Stam). The Argentine-born Gustavo Dahl was a key figure in Brazilian
cinema. Coming at a time when government censorship and repression forced artists to seek
outside funding, Uriá was coproduced with Italian television.

• Written
by Dahl, based on anthropological studies by Darcy Ribeiro. Photographed by Rogério de
Noel. With Erico Vidal, Ana Maria Magalhães, Dahl. (90 mins, In Portuguese with English
subtitles, Color, 35mm)

Saturday January 23

Conjugal Warfare 5:00, 8:50

Joaquim Pedro de
Andrade (Brazil, 1974)

(Guerra conjugal).
A black comedy that would make Buñuel blush, Conjugal Warfare intercuts three
stories of what the director calls “romantic psychopathology.” It is set among
the “suits” in the mythical coffee-capital of Curitiba, a pastel-and-poison
milieu peculiar to the kitsch-bourgeoisie. In one vignette, a lawyer obsessively indulges
his erotic fantasies about his clients (he is drawn to girls in flats and women in
mourning) until an encounter with an old school chum sets him straight. In another, a
sensitive young man finds satisfaction in progressively older women, his passions
bordering more on the vampiric than the Freudian. And in the third, an aged married
couple’s conjugal rituals give a new twist to the bonds of domesticity. Its eye for
dementia (in young and old) makes Conjugal Warfare a bitter and blistering satire
on bourgeois values and tastes, but for de Andrade, it all adds up to “the
possibility of redemption through excessive sin.”

• Written
by Anísio Medeiros, based on the stories of Dalton Trevisan. Photographed by Pedro de
Moraes. With Lima Duarte, Carlos Gregorio, Jofre Soares. (93 mins, In Portuguese with
English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

Dona Flor and Her Two
Husbands 6:50

Bruno Barreto (Brazil,

(Dona Flor e seus
dois maridos). The return of husbands past to haunt the present with virile humor is a
staple of screwball comedy, but Cary Grant and Ralph Bellamy never met like this! Bruno
Barreto’s ribald comedy, directed when he was only 23 from a Jorge Amado novel, and a
smash hit in the States, gave us one of cinema’s true blithe spirits, a man whose
dissipation is so complete, so pure, and so free of guilt or compunction, we can only
welcome his return from the grave. He is called back by his widow Flor, or rather by her
unfulfilled desires in her second marriage, to a devoted pharmacist whose lovemaking is
just ho hoãm. The Bahian colors, florid carnival costumes, and palpable
flavors (with cooking instructions: bring a pad and pencil) are a thin mask for entrenched
social conventions that Dona Flor subversively flaunts in making her uninhibited secret
life her reality.

• Based on
a novel by Jorge Amado. Photographed by Maurilo Salles. With Sonia Braga, José Wilker,
Mauro Mendonça. (106 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

Friday January 29

Everything’s Fine 7:00

Arnaldo Jabor (Brazil,

(Tudo bem). In
this absurd comedy, when construction workers remodel the Copacabana apartment of a
bourgeois couple, they open a “fourth wall” on the family’s bizarre
hermetic existence. The father is a sentimental reactionary whose social world consists of
ghostly comrades, thus he need never get out of his pajamas; his wife is likewise involved
with a phantom sexual creation. Two maids are at their service, one a prostitute, the
other a mystic who suddenly exhibits stigmata. The couple’s two grown kids, boring by
comparison, are understandably in search of foreign influences. “A radicalized Night
at the Opera,” writes Robert Stam. “How many social contradictions can fit
into one room—the room being Brazil—without the room exploding?”

• Written
by Jabor, Leopoldo Serran. Photographed by Dib Lutfi. With Paulo Gracindo, Fernanda
Montenegro, Zezé Motta. (110 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

All Nudity Shall Be
Punished 9:05

Arnaldo Jabor (Brazil,

(Toda nudez será
castigada). A satiric burlesque at the expense of the bourgeoisie (who else?), All
Nudity tells of a wealthy widower and his son who have embraced celibacy, each for his
own reasons, as it turns out. The man’s scoundrel brother, seeing a challenge here,
devilishly introduces him to a blonde chanteuse who works a path to his palatial home.
There she reigns in shameless Harlowesque displacement—only to meet and fall hard for
the chaste young son. Devastating subversive comedy hits its target—upper-class
sexual hypocrisy—and keeps on going. So beware a tragic ending for this naive
golddigger who relies on the kindness of strangers. Director Arnaldo Jabor, in a 1981
interview with Judy Stone, relates Brazilian drama to the Portuguese and Spanish
picaresque tradition, “…bawdy and self-ironical. So this film is a strong criticism
of petty bourgeois hypocrisy: everyone thinking that everything is going to be normal. And
then everything is different. Brazil is like that.”

• Written
by Jabor, based on the play by Nelson Rodrigues. Photographed by Lauro Escorel. With Paulo
Porto, Darlene Glória, Paula Sacks. (102 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles,
Color, 35mm)

Saturday January 30

Bye Bye Brazil 5:00, 9:40

Carlos Diegues
(Brazil, 1980)

Brazil à La Strada,
this is a tour, more picaresque than picturesque, of the desolate hinterlands with a small
troupe of artistes—a magician, Lord Gypsy; his rumba-dancing lover, Salome; and a
mute strongman called Swallow. Their accordion-playing protégé (a Jean-Pierre
Léaud-like enfant terrible) and his very pregnant wife look to the ragtag
troupe as a ticket out of nowhere. But Gypsy and Salome are inexorably drawn to the
mysteries of Brazil’s vastness: they imagine themselves one step behind the advance
of progress into the Amazon, but still find themselves playing to blank-faced Indians who
have the spirit on their minds; or playing against disco-TV, the ubiquitous first outpost
of civilization. “I can make the dreams of all Brazilians come true,” Gypsy
proclaims as he creates snow out of coconut: optimism in the face of the relentlessly
funky is what makes this film so unique, bridging Cinema Novo to “the civilized
countries of the world,” snow and all.

• Written
by Diegues. Photographed by Lauro Escorel Filho. With José Wilker, Betty Faria, Fábio
Junior. (110 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, Color, 16mm)

Gaijin 7:05

Tizuka Yamasaki
(Brazil, 1980)

Preceded by short:

I Kill Them? (Sergio Bianchi, Brazil,
1983). (Mato Eles?). The last Indians of the Mangueirinha reserve are being
exterminated with the approval of those who are supposed to protect them. (33 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles,
Color, 16mm)

(Gaijin, caminhos da
liberdade). This deeply felt film by a Brazilian woman of Japanese ancestry is based
on the experiences of her own grandmother, who came to Brazil at the turn of the century
when Japanese were encouraged to join the coffee boom labor force. To comply with the
preference for families, a very young Titoe (Kyoko Tsukamoto) marries Yamada, whom she has
never met, and the two leave for Brazil. Life on the plantation is close to slavery for
the Japanese, Italian, and other immigrant workers, fueling a growing union consciousness.
Director Yamasaki wanted her Japanese lead actress to affect the most authentic experience
possible, and therefore asked that she arrive in Brazil having done no research, and not
speaking the language. The result is a performance of extreme sensitivity in the demanding
role of Titoe, who grows from child to adult in the complex world of the
“gaijin,” the outsider.

• Written
by Jorgé Duran, Yamasaki. Photographed by Edgar Moura. With Kyoko Tsukamoto, Antonio
Fagundes, Jiro Kawarasaki, Gianfrancesco Guarnieri. (105 mins, In Japanese and Portuguese
with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

Friday February 5

Bahia of All Saints 7:30

Trigueirinho Neto
(Brazil, 1961)

(Bahia de todos os
santos). The saga of adolescents living on their own as adults was treated as early as
1961 by Triguerinho Neto in this film set in Salvador, Bahia, under the Vargas
dictatorship. Tonio has left home, unable to identify with his parents’ community
centered around their African-derived religion. But he finds that, as a mulatto, in the
outside world he is rejected by whites who see him as black and by blacks who see him as
white. Tonio, who prefers the company of marginals who are as indefinable as himself,
settles into the protection of a woman old enough to be his mother and befriends local
dockworkers who are on strike. Betraying the former to help the latter, he finds himself
alone. In his inability to commit, Tonio may be a proletarian version of the rootless
character central to early sixties Cinema Novo in such films as São Paulo S/A.

• Written
by Neto. Photographed by Guglielmo Lombardo. With Jurandir Pimentel, Arassary de Oliveira,
Geraldo del Rey, Lola Brah. (100 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, B&W,

Triste Trópico 9:25

Arthur Omar (Brazil,

Preceded by short:

Hatters (Adrian Cooper, Brazil, 1984).
(Chapeleiros). This film shot in a hat factory depicts an oppressive industrial
production setup where abnormality becomes the norm. (24 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles,
Color, 35mm)

What starts as a
conventional ethnographic documentary, its title taken from Lévi-Strauss’s memoir
about Brazil, reveals itself to be anything but conventional, and in fact, a faux
documentary. Taking as its subject one Arthur Alvaro de Noronha, a Paris-trained doctor in
Brazil, the film reveals the good doctor’s specialty to be the Heart of Darkness. A
man who in Paris drank coffee with the Surrealists, in Brazil Dr. Arthur cavorts with
witch doctors and cannibals, becoming an indigenous messiah. Working in an active
Brazilian avant-garde of the seventies, Omar’s technique not only takes a withering
look at the notion of “tropicalism,” but is a devilish undermining of the
“witchcraft of cinema itself,” as Robert Stam wrote. “We begin to suspect
that we have been the dupes of an immense joke, as if Borges had slyly rewritten

• Written
by Omar. Photographed by Iso Malman, José Carlos Avellar. With Othon Bastos. (80 mins, In
Portuguese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

Saturday February 6

Barren Lives 5:00, 9:10

Nelson Pereira dos
Santos (Brazil, 1963)

(Vidas sêcas).
Based on a famous novel by Graciliano Ramos, Vidas sêcas is a chronicle of the
day-to-day existence of a family of migrants who trek along the drought-ridden dusty roads
of the Northeast’s vast sertão, heading to the urban South. They briefly
become squatters on a cattle ranch before circumstances force them to move on. And on.
Their oppression by landscape and landowners alike is viewed in the stark and simple tones
of great tragedy. One has to look to Buñuel’s Land Without Bread for a film
as pitiless in its refusal to sentimentalize or romanticize poverty, as uncompromising in
its documentation of a culture of hunger and despair. In this setting, bathed as it is
parched in light, dos Santos finds a cinematic equivalent for the novel’s empathic
approach to point-of-view for the largely inarticulate Fabiano and Vitória and their
children—even for their dog, who, says dos Santos, “has her own universe, her
own vision.”

• Written
by dos Santos, based on the novel by Graciliano Ramos. Photographed by Jose Rosa, Luiz
Carlos Barreto. With Atila Iorio, Maria Ribeiro, Orlando Macedo, Jofre Soares. (135 mins,
In Portuguese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

Aruanda, Viramundo, and Memories of the Cangaço 7:30

Aruanda (Linduarte Noronha, Brazil, 1960). Probably the
seminal documentary influence on Cinema Novo, Aruanda concerns a quilombo, a
community established by runaway slaves in the nineteenth century in Brazil’s
northeastern state of Paraíba. The film’s crude production conditions and sunstruck
cinematography seem to be a part of the lives it depicts—the dry poverty of the
cotton culture—and for this it was a significant moment in Cinema Novo’s
“aesthetics of hunger.” Photographed
by Rucker Vieira. (20 mins)

Viramundo (Geraldo
Sarno, Brazil, 1964). A classic example of a direct-cinema documentary, Viramundo
focuses on the mass migration of unskilled poor people from the rural zones of the
Brazilian Northeast to São Paulo. The film itself investigates and questions; it
“advances like a dialogue,” as José Carlos Avellar writes, the camera
“reacting as a person: participating in the conversation, cutting a sentence in the
middle if the emotional reaction to what is said so requires, and placing one statement
beside another in order to complement or contradict it, just as one might do in
conversation.” (34 mins)

Memories of
the Cangaço (Paulo Gil Soares, Brazil,
1965). (Memória do Cangaço). The cangaço was a movement of armed
rebel-bandits in the backlands of the Brazilian Northeast in the 1930s. In Soares’s
film, the story of the most famous cangaçeiro, Limpiao, is told through song,
legend, and documentary interviews. (30 mins)

• (Total running time: 84 mins, In Portuguese with English
subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

Friday February 12

The Red Light Bandit 7:30

Rogério Sganzerla
(Brazil, 1968)

(O bandido da luz
vermelha). A famous Underground film about the underworld—thieves, addicts,
smugglers, con artists, and artists—The Red Light Bandit is a genre-bending
B-film homage à la Breathless, or “a western about the Third World,” in
the director’s words. The protagonist is a Pierrot le Fou-like urban hustler who
steals from (also kills) the rich and, despite his newspaper sobriquet Zorro of the Poor,
leads an extravagant high life among the marginals of his choice. While eluding a police
dragnet, he does it his way. And so does the film’s 23-year-old director, film critic
and cinephile Rogério Sganzerla, who is as wickedly unsentimental as his protagonist and
twice as crafty. A layered soundtrack, offscreen narration that doesn’t jibe with the
images, a pastiche of tropical-pop references, and a taste for bad taste—as Robert
Stam notes, when a subtitle announces “My last bomb,” we don’t know if it
will be hurled by protagonist or director.

• Written
by Sganzerla. Photographed by Peter Overbeck. With Paulo Villaça, Helena Ignez, Luiz
Linhares, Pagano Sobrinho. (92 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

The Guns 9:20

Ruy Guerra (Brazil,

(Os fuzis).
Mozambique-born Ruy Guerra learned filmmaking in Paris. His film The Guns is
possibly the most explosive political film of Cinema Novo and the most purely Marxist. The
setting is the Northeast, where starving migrants led by a beato worship an ox and
pray for rain. Five soldiers are brought in to protect the harvest, destined to be trucked
to the city, from these hungry souls. One of the truck drivers, Gaucho, becomes enraged at
the pilgrims’ apathy and commits a decisive act of defiance, suicidal but ultimately
futile: “the violence of liberation” only succeeds if it puts food into the
mouths of the liberated. Thus it is the ox whose death is called for. “The power of
the film lies indeed in its objectivity. Far from being urged to admire or champion the
peasants, we are, like Gaucho, enraged by their religious credulity…while the soldiers
emerge, no less than the townspeople, as the corrupted victims of a system.” (Nigel

• Written
by Guerra, from a story by Guerra, Miguel Torres, et al. Photographed by Ricardo
Aronovich. With Atila Iório, Nélson Xavier, Maria Gladys, Leonides Bayer. (110 mins, In
Portuguese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

Saturday February 13

Black God, White Devil 5:00, 9:10

Glauber Rocha (Brazil,

Followed by short:

Midnight with Glauber (Ivan Cardoso, Brazil, 1997). (A mela noite
com Glauber). A conversation between Glauber Rocha, Helio Oiticica, and the
director—with star appearances from José Mojica Marins and Paco Rabal. Quotes
aggressively collide with images by Rocha, and this montage itself becomes a dialogue
about cinema. Photographed by
Haroldo de Campos. (16 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, Color/B&W, 35mm)

(Deus e o diabo na
terra do sol). “Black God, White Devil is the most beautiful thing I have
seen in more than a decade, filled with a savage poetry.”— Luis Buñuel

With its roots in the legends and folk traditions of northeastern
Brazil, Black God, White Devil is an epic exorcism of the violence and hunger-fed
cultural derangements that have scarred that barren region for centuries. In
near-hallucinatory images of astonishing power, and based in part on actual incidents,
Rocha depicts the saga of two peasants, Manuel and Rosa, and a charismatic black beato,
or messianic priest, whose authority threatens that of the Catholic Church and local
landowners. Antonio das Mortes is hired to eliminate the “black god”; in an
interesting twist, the job is done for him. When the priest’s hunger-crazed followers
are led to a massacre at the hands of government troops, Manuel and Rosa, the sole
survivors, find a new leader in the cangaceiro Corisco, heroic bandit-champion of
the oppressed. And so the loop closes: Corisco, the “white devil,” will be
Antonio das Mortes’s next victim.

• Written
by Rocha, Walter Lima Junior, Paulo Gil Soares. Photographed by Waldemar Lima. With
Geraldo del Ray, Yoná Magalháes, Othon Bastos, Lidio Sylva. (120 mins, In Portuguese
with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

The Angel Is Born 7:30

Júlio Bressane
(Brazil, 1969)

(O anjo nasceu).
Like The Red Light Bandit, a classic from the Udigrudi or Underground
movement. The Angel Is Born follows two wastrels, the white Santamaria, mystical
and violent, and his more naive black partner-in-crime, Urtiga. They wreak havoc in Rio
while awaiting Santamaria’s avenging angel. But redemption is for another kind of
movie: The Angel Is Born is as far from the sociology of realism—even from
Cinema Novo—as can be, both in style and moral stance. “The film itself
represents a cool and tranquil kind of criminality, an audio-visual assault and
battery…a nihilistic gesture directed against the hypocritical discourse of power”
(Robert Stam). “A savage and bewitching film” (NFT, London).

• Written
by Bressane. Photographed by Thiago Veloso. With Hugo Carvana, Milton Gonçalves, Norma
Bengell, Carlos Guimar. (82 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

Friday February 19

Memories of Helen 7:30

David Neves (Brazil,

(Memoria de Helena).
The first feature of filmmaker and critic David Neves, an influential voice in Brazilian
cinema, Memories of Helen is “precise, literate, intensely romantic… Two
girls—Rosa and Helena—grow up together in an old town in Minas Gerais. Their
story is framed by home movies that Rosa took and later shows to her boyfriend in Rio. The
home movies, like faded family snapshots, provide an objective commentary on Helena’s
snugly enclosed world (peopled by cats, her faithful nurse, a deep attachment to Rosa)
that is smashed open by a rich, spoiled young man who takes her up and then leaves. The
two girls are beautifully characterized, the photography exquisite; the film itself is
spellbinding.” (Michael Webb, AFI) “Memories of Helen is primarily an
exploration of one woman’s mind… Helen is a character full of fascinating
complexities, partially liberated, partially the victim of romantic innocence. [This]
story of a profound friendship between two women [is] reminiscent of Bergman’s Persona.”
(Steve Mamber, Filmex ’71)

• Written
by Neves, P. E. Sales Gomes. Photographed by David Drew Zingg. With Rosa Maria Penna,
Adriana Prieto, Arduino Colasanti, Humberto Mauro. (81 mins, In Portuguese with English
subtitles, Color/B&W, 35mm)

Iracema 9:05

Jorge Bodanzky
(Brazil, 1975)

Iracema (an anagram for
America) is a 14-year-old Indian girl who leaves her Amazon village to find out what life
is like in the big city of Belem. There she survives by prostitution until she meets a
truck driver on the Trans-Amazon Highway route who takes her on the road. The highway
symbolizes the “new” Brazil of fantastic wealth and mobility, but for Iracema
the journey leads straight back to the same life of resignation. Her abuse and humiliation
mirror the ruthless destruction of the Brazilian landscape, the beauty and squalor of
which is captured in Jorge Bodanzky’s color camerawork. With riveting performances by
the two leads, Bodanzky’s semidocumentary approach to fiction ran counter to the
dialectic/operatic approach of Glauber Rocha and the main Cinema Novo directors, but was
no less revolutionary. Iracema shows the Brazil of the developing outback in images
so graphic that the film was banned from release.

• Written
by Bodanzky, Orlando Senna. Photographed by Bodanzky. With Edna de Cássia, Paulo César
Pereio. (90 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

Saturday February 20

Macunaíma 5:00, 8:30

Joaquim Pedro de
Andrade (Brazil, 1969)

Cinema Novo’s
“Tropicalist” period had nothing to do with Carmen Miranda, everything to do
with the delights and depths of indigenous forms of expression, richly reworked in a
modernist sensibility. Macunaíma is the definitive Afro-Brazilian picaresque, an
equatorial Candide that “in its jocose examination of the Brazilian psyche
fuses symbols, satire, and free fantasy…into a unified fictional universe.” (Randal
Johnson) Based on a 1929 novel by Mario de Andrade, it tells of a fifty-year-old black
newborn who turns white and journeys to the city where, among other adventures, he lives
with a beautiful, troubled urban guerrilla and singlehandedly wrestles with capitalist
cannibalism (and, implied, with the repression of the post-coup regime). A film that
endlessly rewards, but doesn’t require, analysis, Macunaíma was Cinema
Novo’s breakthrough commercial film, called in the New York Times, “One
of the major works of cinema in this decade. The acting, color, and mise-en-scene are
nearly perfect. The sense of life is complex and profound.”

• Written
by de Andrade, based on the novel by Mario de Andrade. Photographed by Guido Cosulich.
With Grande Otelo, Paulo Jose, Milton Gonçalves, Rodolfo Arena. (108 mins, In Portuguese
with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

Our Indians 7:05

Sylvio Back (Brazil,

(Yndio do Brasil).
“The only good Indian is a filmed Indian”: this observation by the American
documentarian Richard Leacock is offered as a motto and leitmotif for Our Indians,
a collage of hundreds of films from Brazil and other countries that show how the cinema
has portrayed Brazilian Indians since they were first filmed in 1912—alternately
religious and militaristic, cruel and magical, idealized and vilified. Shown at Rotterdam
Film Festival ’96.

• Written
by Back. Photographed by Lider, Cinema Arts. (70 mins, In Portuguese with English
subtitles, Color, 35mm)

Friday February 26

The Hour of the Star 7:30

Suzana Amaral (Brazil,

(A hora da estrela).
This story of poverty and destiny, adapted from the novel by Clarice Lispector, was the
first feature film from fifty-two-year-old director and mother of nine Suzana Amaral. In a
brilliantly plain performance that begs comparison to Giulietta Masina, Marcélia Cartaxo
plays an unexpectedly memorable heroine: Macabea, a grubby 19-year-old eking out a living
on the margins of São Paulo. When she’s not working or dining on hot dogs and
Coca-Cola, Macabea loses herself in vaguely romantic fantasies; although she’s
hopelessly ill-groomed, she manages an almost random romance with the callous Olimpico,
who berates her for her ignorance even though he poorly conceals his own. It’s true,
Macabea is impossibly naive; everything she knows she learned from Time Radio Station, a
24-hour broadcast that dispenses irrelevant trivia between announcements of the hour. The
radio is a constant background presence, ticking off the minutes until Macabea meets her
fate—which proves to be both a climax of movie-made fantasy and a reminder of
heartbreaking reality.—Juliet Clarke

• Written
by Amaral, Alfredo Oroz, based on the novel by Clarice Lispector. Photographed by Edgar
Moura. With Marcélia Cartaxo, José Dumont, Tamara Taxman. (96 mins, In Portuguese with
English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

Pixote 9:20

Hector Babenco
(Brazil, 1981)

Pixote is a
powerful portrait of innocence and corruption, a mixture of social realism and mythic
elements. Its vivid depiction of abandoned children in Brazil resonates with an even more
tragic situation that exists today. Its outlaw-hero is a ten-year-old boy from the slums
of São Paulo who is loose in the Rio underworld, on the lam from the savagery of police
and their “reform” schools. Preying off other people, these homeless youths are
by turns exploited and taken in by older thieves, prostitutes, and pimps (here, mostly
played by nonprofessional actors, as is Pixote himself). “Babenco portrays the
struggle for survival in its harshest terms, while evoking moments of exquisite
tenderness, selfless love, honor, loyalty, and moral strength. Most astounding is his
powerful sense of the absurd. He is able to draw attention to the ridiculous and the mad
in the most tragic of circumstances.” (George Csicsery, Film Quarterly)

• Written
by Babenco, Jorge Duran, from the novel Infancia dos Mortos by Jose Louzeiro.
Photographed by Rodolfo Sanches. With Fernando Ramos da Silva, Marília Pera, Jorge
Juliao, Gilberto Moura. (127 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

Experimentos Tropicais: Recent Video from

Six Wednesdays in January and February

Brazil itself is a grand experiment of fantastical places, complex
histories, and spirited cultures. Out of this continually ripening country has come art of
lively and formidable proportion. Less known than Brazil’s lush music, literature,
and film is its bounty of new media art. Distinguished by the markings of this profuse
culture, these videoworks are anything but provincial, for they also look beyond Brazil
for inspiration, assimilating contemporary concerns and aesthetic strategies from abroad. Experimentos
surveys the current state of Brazilian media arts, drawing upon an
intriguing and zestful body of works, many of them presented in their U.S. premieres. From
compact poetic recitations to innovative indigenous ethnography; from lyrical essayistic
explorations to life-affirming visions of culture—Experimentos Tropicais
offers the chance to view the rich diversity of Brazil’s media artists.

For one evening, we cross borders to introduce an important Argentinian
artist, Marcello Mercado, with the premiere of The Warm Place, the First
Prize-winner at this year’s Videobrasil.

—Steve Seid

We would like to thank the staff of Videobrasil, a bi-annual festival
based in São Paulo, for being such gracious hosts at their most recent event. This series
could not have occured without them. Also special thanks to: Solange Farkas, Marcia
Antabi, Eder Santos, and Sandra Kogut for their generous advice and assistance.

Wednesday January 13

Portraits: People in Places 7:30

Works by Marcia Antabi, Roberto Berliner, Marcondes Dourado, Sandra
Kogut, Lucila Meirelles, Eder Santos

Portraiture is often as much about the setting as it is about its
frontal subject. Here, six artists bring us provocative portraits placed in a setting
called Brazil. Roberto Berliner’s One Is Fit for What One Is Born (A pessoa é
para o que nasce) (1998, 6 mins) evokes the surprising wit and wisdom of three blind
sisters who sing for their survival on the streets of Paraíba. Painful memories surge
forward as Rio-based Marcia Antabi taunts the silence in Hanah (Under the Skin) (Sob a
pele) (1997, 8 mins), a dreamlike work linking the artist to her grandmother’s
troubled past. Marcondes Dourado’s Ogodô Ano 2000 (1996, 12 mins) transforms
Carnival in Salvador into a fleshy procession of images that sensually undulate like
desire itself. Using translucent layering, Lucila Meirelles’s Blind
Oliveira in His Deserted Sight (Cego Oliveira no sertão do seu olhar) (1998, 17:20
mins) conveys the hazy world of a partially sighted fiddler from the sertão.
Sandra Kogut’s Here and There (Lá e cá) (1995, 25 mins) is a piquant
narrative about a lively working-class woman contemplating a move to the upscale Zona Sul
in Rio. Combining documentary-style camera with spicy dramatic stagings, this work
beautifully explores her old neighborhood with all its seductive vitality. Interspersed
with the above tapes will be episodes from Eder Santos’s Geography of Shadows (Geografia
de sombras) (1998, 7 segments, approx. 13 mins), magical tone-poems about cityscapes
and their occupants.—Steve Seid

• (Total running time: 70 mins, In Portuguese with English
subtitles, Color, Video, From the artists, Electronic Arts Intermix)

Wednesday January 20

Candomblé and Healing

Odô Yá! Life with AIDS 7:30

Tânia Cypriano (Brazil/U.S., 1997)

Preceded by:

Ex-Voto (Tânia Cypriano, 1990), in which the artist offers up
thanks to Nossa Senhora da Aparecida, Patron Saint of Brazil, in gratitude for saving her
from a childhood accident. (7 mins) Brooklyn Bridge (Marcia Antabi, 1998) finds the
artist contemplating the gravity of culture as she prepares to depart one for another. (7

The nurturing and magnanimous gods of Candomblé, the Orixás, cast
sexuality as a pleasurable and vital act. And because many of the Orixas are ambiguously
gendered, this syncretic worship has come to embrace a wide swathe of sexual expressions.
Nowhere has this embrace been more evident than in Candomblé’s spirited response to
AIDS. Cypriano’s zestful documentary Odô Yá! focuses on the religion’s
efforts to cope with the epidemic, taking us to houses of worship, neighborhood programs
like Rio’s Odô Yá!, and black pride associations the likes of Ile Aye and Olodum.
Throughout the states of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Bahia, Candomblé activists have
rallied around the often marginalized victims of AIDS, bringing them education, pride, and
perhaps their greatest shared resource, axé, the power of life. (58
mins)—Steve Seid

• (Total running time: 72 mins, In Portuguese with English
subtitles and narration, 3/4” video, From the artists, Viva Pictures)

Wednesday February 3

The Artful Ethnography of Vincent Carelli 7:30

Meeting Ancestors, We Gather As a Family and Signs Don’t

Preceded by:

Morayngava (Regina Müller, Virginia Valadão, Brazil, 1997).
The Asurini people describe the contradictions inherent in the use of video to collect
cultural images. (17 mins)

In Vincent Carelli’s uniquely sumptuous and dramatic ethnography,
we witness Amazonian peoples confronting their own ethnicity through video’s alluring
ability to represent it. Indigenous Brazilians have invested this visual technology with
the properties of a tool, a weapon, and a mask. In Meeting Ancestors (A arca dos
Zo’é) (1993, 21 mins), a wondrous cultural exchange occurs when Chief Wai-Wai of
the Waiãpi views footage of the Zo’é, a tribe sharing a similar language, and then
crosses the “Big River” for a visit. We Gather As a Family (Eu já fui seu
irmão) (1993, 32 mins) finds the chief of the Parakatêjê musing over the erosion of
cultural integrity and, through an exchange with the more traditional Krahô, becoming
inspired to reinvigorate tribal rites. Three years later, we again visit the Waiãpi, now
engaged in a struggle to repel the encroachment of prospectors in their land: Signs
Don’t Speak (with Dominique Gallois, 1996, 27 mins) uses storytelling as well as
documentary footage to illustrate their ironic efforts to survey their own territory. Now
with distinct borders, the Waiãpi ponder the limits of culture.—Steve Seid

Vincent Carelli’s videoworks represent the remarkable efforts of
the Centro de Trabalho Indigenista, a group that brings video to indigenous people to aid
in their fight to preserve endangered cultures.

• (Total running time: 97 mins, In Portuguese and indigenous
languages with English subtitles, Color, 3/4” video, From Video Data Bank)

Wednesday February 10

The Boys from Belo 7:30

André Amparo, Lucas Bambozzi, Kiko Mollica, Marcus Nascimento, Pedro
& Paulo Vilela, Eder Santos, and Aggêo Simões

The thriving city of Belo Horizonte in the state of Minas Gerais has
bred a particular sensibility, one which could be best described as poetic; at least that
is how it appears from here. The artists of this region, who work in close proximity both
intellectually and aesthetically, have amassed a body of video remarkable for its
lyricism, scrupulous craft, and fondness for pictorial poignancy. Many of these works
could be reductively designated as video-poems, however it is rare that they stop at mere
illustration, reaching instead for emotional and cerebral tonalities. Lucas
Bambozzi’s That Is A Place I Do Not Know (Ali é um lugar que não conheco)
(1996, 6 mins) is a beaming video-poem about unattainable places and the allure of
intangible desire. Eder Santos’s Tumitinhas (1998, 4:47 mins) interprets a poem by
Sandra Penna in which she subverts the double-edged children’s song translated as
“youhadme.” Kiko Mollica pays tribute to the passing of his much-revered
grandmother in Granny Rita (1996, 6:18 mins), combining affectionate portraiture and words
once exchanged. Marcus Nascimento refines his compact poetics in Videohaiku (with
Aggêo Simões, 1998, 5:58 mins), a series of sensorial observations embedded in painterly
video textures. In André Amparo’s Bottom of the Sea (O fundo do mar) (1998,
2:43 mins) reflections on dryness are awash in a boundless flood.—Steve Seid

Also to be screened:

Otto (Lucas Bambozzi, 1998, 20 mins). The Toys (Os
brinquedos) (Kiko Mollica, 1997, 1 mins). Video Chronicles (Kiko
Mollica, 1995-97, 3:30 mins). Vídeo Cabeça (Kiko Mollica, 1997, 40 sec). Memória
(Marcus Nascimento, 1998, 2:15 mins). Janaúba (Eder Santos, 1994, 17 mins). Un Ponce de
Dor (Pedro and Paulo Vilela, 1998, 1 min).

• (Approximate running time: 70 mins, In Portuguese with English
subtitles, Color, 3/4” video, From the artists). Special thanks to Eder Santos, Kiko
Mollica, and the people at EMVIDEO.

Wednesday February 17

Recent Works by Carlos Nader 7:30

Trovoada, Carlos Nader, The End of the Journey

One of Brazil’s most prominent video artists, Carlos Nader is
something of an ineffable essayist. Best known for 1992’s exuberant Beijoquerio:
Portrait of a Serial Kisser (screened several times at PFA), Nader has numerous works
remarkable for their diverse, lyrical explorations and visual stylizations. Perhaps his
most deceptive video piece is The End of the Journey (O fim da viagem) (1996, 30:35
mins), an uncanny road “movie” about labor and love, masquerading as a
television documentary. Following the routine trip of a truck driver delivering hogs,
Nader subtly highlights the profound connection of the everyday to the sustaining cycles
of nature. Trovoada (1995, 16:25 mins) and Carlos Nader (1998, 15:30) are formal
relatives, relying on gorgeous visual interventions, but then they part company. Where Trovoada
looks at the notion of time as a personal sensation, Carlos Nader implodes
autobiography by dispersing identity across a complex cultural landscape. Ravishing
panoramas intermingle with strange testimony about autonomy, perception, and the thousand
and one secrets we conceal. Award-winner at the 12th Videobrasil.—Steve Seid

• (Total running time: 62 mins, plus discussion, In Portuguese
with English subtitles, Color, 3/4” video, From the artist)

Wednesday February 24

Marcello Mercado: Argentinian Angst 7:30

Premieres: The Torment Zone, The Edge of Rain, The
Warm Place

Marcello Mercado, an intense artist from Cordoba, Argentina, takes
history very personally. Unwilling to let the unresolved terrors of Argentina’s
historical legacy go gently into the night, Mercado confronts them through his video art
with fervor, commitment, and originality. The Torment Zone (La Region del Tormento)
(1993, 8:40 mins, In Spanish with English subtitles) is an imaginary visit to a mental
hospital where subjugation and enclosure echo other forms of tyranny. Mercado’s
twisted drawings act as tour guides to bedlam. In The Edge of Rain (El Borde de la
Illuvia) (1995, 42 mins, In English) the Dirty War is addressed obliquely: tales of
distress—of vanished people, of stressed fetuses, of butchered cattle—are
juxtaposed with images that acknowledge both beauty and disgust. Mercado’s newest
work, The Warm Place (El Lugar Tibio) (1998, 36 mins, In English) turns the tyranny
of history inward, describing the body’s betrayal as a response to political
fragmentation and despair. Constructed in a computer using layers of moving images and
precise graphical compositions, Mercado’s uncompromising work is driven by an urgency
of vision that could only be called inspired. The imagistic allegory of a country’s
amnesia evokes a psychopolitical space where revulsion and compassion vie for dominance.
First Place Winner at the 12th Videobrasil.—Steve Seid

• (Total running time: 86 mins, Color, 3/4” video, From the

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