New Brazilian Documentaries: Moving in Search of Reality By Leandro Listorti
Among the significant number of films shown in the 2005 Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival were a solid group of Brazilian documentaries. These films, which at first have nothing in common but the documentary genre, might be drawing a line that connects them in their ambitions and methods.
Moacir, Brutal Art (Moacir, arte bruta) by Walter Carvalho, reveals the paintings of Moacir, a man living secluded in a small village in Chapada dos Veadeiros, some one-hundred and fifty miles from the city of Brasilia. In the tradition of León Hirzsman’s Imagens do inconsciente (1986), the film uses interviews with the artist, his relatives and neighbors to outline the extraordinary and uncommon Brazilian artist.
Cattle Callers (Aboio) by first-timer Marília Rocha (born in 1978 in Minas Gerais) documents, poetically, the work of men who drive cattle using their voices as instruments, a practice almost forgotten now. This rural songs of work, called aboios, seems to have an enchanting effect on the beasts that follow the men along the Northeast desert.
In The End and the Beginning (O fim e o Principio) filmmaker Eduardo Coutinho (born in São Paulo in 1933) decides to leave Rio de Janeiro with his crew but without a script or a final destination, drifting from village to village until coming up with something attractive. They end up in Araçás, inland of Paraíba, where the residents are interviewed and in narrating their own lives start to compose a rich portrait of Brazil. This is similar to the director’s previous, Edifício Master (2002), where the action took place in a huge building apartment in Copacabana.
In a movement that is not related only to space, but also to time, these films, by filmmakers from three different generations, try to rescue and validate their subjects. By doing so they preserve a force behind the documentary tradition of keeping memory alive and enlightening unknown worlds.