Note from BW of Brazil: Every now and then, you receive something that makes your day or makes all of the work you put into doing something you love to do all worth while. And for several years, I’ve received another of pleasant surprises that let me know that there are a lot of people out there who are interested in how things go down in Brazil from the perspective of race.
News and views presented on the Black Women of Brazil blog have been cited in books, dissertations, numerous large media websites as well as blogs of wide, medium and limited size, YouTube videos and radio reports. As the creator and founder of this blog, I’ve been interviewed, featured in documentaries and asked to participate in various platforms dealing with the issue of race in Brazil.
It goes without saying that I appreciate all of the people who follow this blog, and/or the Twitter or Facebook page, the people who take the time to write comments, whether they agree or disagree with something they’ve read on this blog and those who’ve sent me personal messages to connect, debate, or converse on some level.
It’s great to know that, even still being a blog of small to medium range reach, the information found on this little blog presents useful information to readers in a number of ways. Well, as it turns out, yesterday, to my pleasant surprise, was yet another day that made this work all worth it.
Checking my e-mail yesterday, I received a message from a representative of Array, a multi-platform media company and arts collective based in Los Angeles, California, founded in 2012 by filmmaker Ava DuVernay. The e-mail informed me that Ava and her people had organized a showcase of emerging Afro-Brazilian filmmakers in an upcoming Instagram Live conversation.
If you’ve been a follower of this blog for the last five years or so, you know that I’ve done a number of stories on the talents of Afro-Brazilian filmmakers whose works have won various awards around the world and been featured in too many film festivals to list in only one post. My question in many of the articles was, and continues to be, why does Brazil refuse to recognize its black filmmakers?
Mind you, some of black Brazil’s best filmmakers have taken home awards in some of the country’s most prestigious cinema award ceremonies, but even so, such obvious questions remain. How many average Brazilians can name an Afro-Brazilian filmmaker? Why do their films rarely get national distribution? Why do they have to struggle to attain funding just to get their films made? Why does Brazil seem to have a fear of presenting non-stereotypical, well-written, black stories created and directed by black filmmakers?
Of course I know that there are a number of issues that still making filmmaking difficult for Brazilian directors in general without even considering the racial aspect, but with the rise of so many talented black people, particularly over the past decade or so, the time has come to have this conversation.
This question of opportunity for Afro-Brazilian filmmmakers became a national debate in a recent controversy that came about due to the projected production of a television series about Marielle Franco, the Rio de Janeiro councilwoman whose 2018 assassination has yet to be solved.
The issue was not that a documentary or a series was being discussed, but rather the fact that the story of black woman who represented the voice of the black and poor community in Rio would be written, produced and directed by three white audiovisual creators. In a Brazil in which black voices have been increasingly demanding representation in every realm of Brazilian society, this was an issue that Afro-Brazilian audio-video specialists would not let simply go by without speaking out.
And speak out they did. In open letter criticizing the choice of three white audiovisual producers, directors and writers, a group of Afro-Brazilians made it clear how revolting it was to “once again to see branquitude (whiteness) disguise as good intentions the appropriation of the image of a black lesbian woman, from the favela, a mother, daughter, sister and wife.”
Upon receiving news of the outrage the choice of three white audiovisual producers had made among many Afro-Brazilians following the situation, screenwriter Antonia Pellegrino seemed to be excusing the lack of black creators on the project to the lack of a “Brazilian Spike Lee” or a Brazilian Ava DuVernay who could be delegated to take the lead on the project.
I knew from the first few lines of director José Padilha’s response in which he pointed out the fact that Malcolm X’s assassins were also black that neither of them would be willing to explore how their own whiteness had played a role in the opportunity they had received. If they fully understood this, it would seem that they would have taken this opportunity to pass this opportunity on to a black director who had been overlooked. If they truly understood how white privilege worked, wouldn’t that have been “the right thing” to do?
The very fact that Pellegrino didn’t seem to know, didn’t mention and didn’t do any research on the question of any Afro-Brazilian filmmakers capable of leading the project tells me that the issue clearly wasn’t as important to her as much as it was another opportunity for her.
As Ava DuVernay was mentioned by name, it’s incredible to see someone of her stature organize such an event to shine the spotlight on a group of black Brazilian filmmakers who could very well become Brazil’s equivalent of herself, Spike or John Singleton.
If this topic interests you, by all means, tune into the discussion which will be broadcast live via Instagram tomorrow. For more information, read on…
AVA DuVERNAY’S ARRAY TO SHOWCASE EMERGING AFRO-BRAZILIAN FILMMAKERS FOR #ARRAYVOICES INSTAGRAM LIVE CONVERSATION ON APRIL 9
The Event Highlights Brazilian Filmmakers of Color and their Contributions to the Global Cinematic and Cultural Arts Scene
As part of its core mission to amplify and support independent films and narrative works by people of color and women of all kinds globally, Ava DuVernay’s multi-platform media company and arts collective ARRAY is showcasing the voices of Afro-Brazilian filmmakers and their dynamic storytelling emerging from Brazil’s creative hotspots across the country. The creative journeys of these talented women and men from this culturally rich country will be discussed during an #ARRAYVoices Instagram Live conversation on Thursday, April 9, 3pm PST. The catalyst for the conversation is the underrepresentation of creative voices – directors, writers, performers, crafts people – across Brazil’s television and film industries, which is an experience shared among creators of color around the globe.
The issues were brought to the forefront recently around the announcement of a TV series in development about slain Afro-Brazilian politician and inclusion activist Marielle Franco, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in March 2018 and whose case remains unsolved. Afro-Brazilian filmmakers were outraged that no people of color were hired as part of the core creative team, in sharp contrast to Franco’s vision and work focused on the inclusion of black women and people of color across all industries. DuVernay and filmmaker Spike Lee were specifically referenced when series creator Antonia Pellegrino defended the choice of Jose Padilha (creator of Netflix’s “Narcos”) as director, commenting on March 8 that Brazil did not have “a Spike Lee, an Ava DuVernay.”
With a global Instagram audience tuning in, the filmmakers will share information on their backgrounds, projects and experiences working within Brazil’s TV and film industry.
Top Afro-Brazliian filmmakers confirmed to participate in the engaging conversation are:
Carol Rodrigues | @carolrodriguescinema
Day Rodrigues | @dayrodrigues_art
Everlane Moraes | @everlane.moraes
Gabriel Martins | @gabitomartins
Jessica Queiroz | @jessicanqueiroz
Safira Moreira | @moreirasafira
Viviane Ferreira | @aquatuny
Click on the link for filmmaker bios.
ARRAY is a multi-platform media company and arts collective based in Los Angeles. Founded in 2012 by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, the company currently operates a trio of branded entertainment entities: ARRAY Releasing, ARRAY Filmworks and ARRAY Creative Campus in partnership with ARRAY Alliance, the non-profit cinema and social justice organization she founded in 2018. www.arraynow.com