It’s been a while. This challenge didn’t go as planned but hey, so does life. I miscalculated the time film school really took if I were to do it right and still have a relationship at home but It paid off. It’s not that I didn’t watch that many films but to do that and write about it when in the middle of making movies and working on friend’s movies can get a little hectic.
I can now call myself a USC film school graduate and transition to the professional life which, no doubt, will sweep me out of the challenge I’m about to propose. You know what? Scrap that. I’m not really good with these kind of things so I will not add too much pressure at first. I will not make it official at least.
Anyway, my goal is to write about movies weekly. I will start with one movie. There will be a difference though. But before I get into that, let me just tell you where this is coming from. Hell, let me start with where I came from… I think you may know I’m Brazilian. For the geographically challenged Brazil is in South America and we speak Portuguese (NOT SPANISH, for the love of God). I want to make films that are engaging and that are (for the most part) set in Brazil. This is because I feel there is a gap in representation from that part of the world, and when there is, it’s the wrong kind.
Let me tell you what I mean. If I ask people what Brazilian movies they’ve seen, City of God is the first one that comes to mind. Then, if they are more savvy than most, they will say Elite Squad. The pattern here is films about violence, corruption and poverty set in Rio’s favelas. I’m kind of tired of this stereotype (exhausted really) and I believe we need to change it. This is not something new. Glauber Rocha named this phenomenon “The Aesthetics of Hunger.” By that he basically meant that people are hungry for this type of film that depicts a primitive state of a society. A place where there are no laws but to merely survive. Everything is game as long as you know how to play it. The land of no one where the fittest is synonymous of the most crooked. The location is exotic. Somewhere far away from the “civilized world” where savagery reigns. Basically the “white man” is hungry to return to the primitive. They can’t really do it in real life (aside from the trips they will take to these exotic places) and frankly, they really don’t want to.
Look, I’m not saying that City of God is not a cinematic masterpiece which I really believe it is. But it doesn’t mean that it isn’t exploitative either. Elite Squad is even more since it took the fame of this genre and rolled with it becoming increasingly more commercial with the sequel by even hiring Hollywood professionals to punch-in some “international” production value. The result was astounding and we all know it became the highest-grossing domestic Brazilian film ever. It was great that it brought a lot of attention to the domestic film market but the not-so-good news is that it kept pushing this exploitative favela-crime genre. In short, this is what I want to work against.
But going back to the plan, I will watch a Latin American film every week and comment about it. Yes, I will still watch the favela movies if they come because the point is to develop my own understanding and Latin American sensibility for films so I know what is lacking and what is plentiful. This is basically a research project for myself and I will just log the results here publicly and if someone happens to read it great, if not…no big deal.
I will leave the previous posts there for posterity’s sake but if one day I feel like it, I will get rid of ’em (it’s my blog afterall :P).
Ok. That is all for now. Wish me luck. Better luck this time please.