|Besides an excessive and unjustified rigidity in the official program selection,
shortened in quantity (only six features and ten shorts) and also quality (that
white fly), the 11th Brasília Film Festival is introducing another novelty in
1978: the end of ‘extra comfort’, meaning that, not even people that come to
work – film people in general, but mostly journalists – are receiving
credentials, not to mention more expensive conveniences. The contest, as everyone
knows, is organised (read disorganised) by the Fundação Cultural do Distrito
Federal which, without doubt, has the right to invite or not whomever it wants,
even if this is seen as elitism: somewhat dislikable, because this is born from
a dangerous feeling of intolerance, the defense of ‘the select few’ interests
against the general interests of Brazilian cinema that at this most stopped to
exist or arrived at an absurd state.
After all, what is Brazilian cinema? This confusion that we can see around the Hotel Nacional pool, with suited bureaucrats taking names from actresses that have never acted in any film, respectable directors shamefully discovering that their names are missing from the invitees list, filmmakers of the body trying an impossible dialogue with filmmakers of the soul? Is this Brazilian cinema? Or only disinformation coming from the Festival organisers, a Festival which once was (ten years ago) the country’s greatest?
To explain what Brazilian cinema is from a festival like this would be a truly unfortunate task, because here we have at the same time all of its aberrations as well as all of its virtues. Here is José Mojica Marins, the popular Coffin Joe, a filmmaker who invented a cinema of total grossness, taking a walk through the corridor of a hotel that feels straight out of a Marx Brothers film, and meeting around the pool with Walter Hugo Khouri, who invented Brazilian cinema’s finesse. Here’s Ivan Cardoso, experimental filmmaker who makes a point of following his own path: experiments at the pool, experiments at a dialogue with ‘big movie’ filmmakers. It’s curious how everything works: it almost feels as if confraternisation actually happens.
Ten years ago, Rogério Sganzerla deservedly won this festival with O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (The Red Light Bandit, 1968), a film that becomes more anthological with every passing year. Yesterday Rogério arrived here, but talked very little: he couldn’t hide his grief, given that his film O Abismo was turned down from the official selection. When asked about how he felt being boycotted, he answered ‘it’s alright’, in a humble voice tone that means ‘it’s not’. Anyway, he once wrote a manifesto against idiocy and is now waiting for the idiots’ fall to be achieved by themselves. His film O Abismo (which I want to see again to understand better) will be shown tomorrow at midnight and should provoke the expected reactions: a few thinking it’s brilliant, others saying it’s worse than awful. The action takes place in the lost continent of Atlantis.
Neville de Almeida is another filmmaker whose film – A Dama do Lotação (Lady on the Bus) – was rejected by the Festival; of course, he is not happy, even more so because he doesn’t like the food they supply here to the owners of those ‘tickets’ that were distributed to very special guests. ‘I think that my film is better than anything in this Festival; it wasn’t made to make money, as some think, but to turn the tables. This I think I did, and I’m not going to give explanations to the eunuchs that loathe it. I also believe it’s absurd that a country which makes a hundred films a year can have only a couple of festivals (Brasília and Gramado) to show around ten pictures. I want to suggest new festivals also in Rio,
Few people are talking about the official competition titles shown so far: Carlos Diegues’ Chuvas do Verão (Summer Showers) and Plácido de Campos Jr.’s Curumim, the latter originally a television pilot. The entire buzz is from the sidebar retrospective ‘National Horror’, which started with O Rei do Baralho (1973) and Agonia (1978), both by Júlio Bressane. But, instead of discussing these two films and the reaction to them now, it seems more useful to transcribe one of the rare texts by Bressane, who is perhaps our most talented filmmaker, written here to José Mojica Marins, whose Sina do Aventureiro (Adventurer’s Fate – his first film, shot in 1956/57) opened the horror sidebar – despite being actually a Western – a couple of days ago in a crowded midnight screening:
|Sina teaches – a few
(bright) things in black and white:
1 – A new frame for the camera’s window. Cavemen cinemascope lens. A new carving of the four-sided space (cage) of the shot: cleansing of borders: something that visually foresees Godard’s modern cinema. A very special cinema with a lens invented for his own movie.
2 – History of national infamy: countryside film (from Brazis) – the world of the hoodlum; of the bloody frontiersman; of rape; of dagger; of lean horses; of cards; of booze. The hideous state of Brazilian criminals/a western with/on live flesh.
3 – A new figuration: new expression: new language: frontiersmen’s language (from the tribes). Country music telling the legend that is the film itself: all the usual tropes of a third-rate cinema’s cowboy picture. And a few more! A kafkian woman picture crosses the film. Riddle-portrait: polished choice of cliché.
4 – A finding-Cinema: cinema understood already as editing (unusual in Brazilian cinema) and editing felt like a jolt: conflict: ideogram.
5 – A generous cinema that suggests many paths to its spectator. And not a single way to the whole audience! Discover in this adventure your own sideway, your fate, knowing that they will all take us there.
© Jairo Ferreira Estate 1978. Translation © Filipe Furtado and Rouge 2009.