Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

With the release of documentary ‘The Case of the Wrong Man’, Camila de Moraes becomes first black woman director in 34 years to have film released in commercial theater – What took so long?


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Note from BW of Brazil: The work and importance of black Brazilians filmmakers is yet another area that is very important to this blog. Afro-Brazilians have been creating incredible short and feature length films featuring black actors as protagonist for some time, but their films have yet to garner the support of Brazil’s film industry which makes it very difficult, if not impossible to get the films in movie theaters. With this in mind, I will be keeping my eye on the upcoming release of the film Correndo atrás by director Jeferson De. But recently, another film, O Caso do Homem Errado, reached a milestone in the southern city of Porto Alegre, becoming the first feature film directed by a black woman to be released in a commercial movie theater in over thirty-four years. I’m sure you’re wondering what took so long. Well, if you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, the answer should be obvious. The making of this film with the financial support of the black community once again shows that this is the only way black Brazilians will get things done. 

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O Caso do Homem Errado (The Case of the Wrong Man), by director Camila de Moraes, opened in theaters in the city of Porto Alegre on March 22

After 34 years, Brazil has another film by a black woman director now playing

By Renata Galf

For the second time in the history of Brazilian cinema, a film directed exclusively by a black woman hits the commercial circuit. O Caso do Homem Errado (The Case of the Wrong Man), by director Camila de Moraes, opened in theaters in the city of Porto Alegre.

The full-length documentary discusses the police violence against juventude negra (black youth). It was selected in 2017 for the Gramado Film Festival and won the award for best film in the 9th Festival Internacional de Cine Latino (International Festival of Latino Cinema)- Latinuy.

The last time that a feature film was directed by a black woman that made it to the commercial circuit was in 1984, with the movie Amor Maldito (Damned Love) (1984), by Adélia Sampaio, the primeira cineasta negra (first black woman filmmaker) of Brazil.

According to a study by the Grupo de Estudos Multidisciplinares da Ação Afirmativa da Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro (Group of multidisciplinary studies of Affirmative Action of the Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro) (GEMAA-UERJ), the participation of women in director roles in Brazilian films has increased in recent decades, rising from 3% in the years 1980 to 10% in 2016. But this does not include mulheres negras (black women).

Após 34 anos, Brasil volta a ter diretora - Copy

Camila de Moraes – Vidas Negras Importam- Black Lives Matter

According to data from Ancine, of 142 Brazilian feature films were released in cinemas in 2016, 75.4% of the directors were white men, and 19.7%, white women, while black men represented only 2.1%, and black women didn’t direct any production.

This absence in cinemas, however, does not match the current scenario of black professionals and filmmakers in Brazil. An example of this is the Encontro de Cinema Negro Zózimo Bulbul – Brasil, África e Caribe (Zózimo Bulbul Encounter of Black Cinema – Brazil, Africa and the Caribbean) which in 2017 reached its 10th edition with 66 national productions.

8º Encontro de Cinema Negro Zózimo Bulbul

The Encontro de Cinema Negro Zózimo Bulbul – Brasil, África e Caribe festival brings exposure to the work of black filmmakers

For Renato Cândido, vice-president of the Associação dxs Profissionais do Audiovisual Negro (APAN or Association of Professionals of Black Audiovisual Negro), the absence of black women directors over 34 years shows an institutionalized racist structure.

“If the decision-making positions are in the hands of white men, the narratives of this branquitude (whiteness) are also prevalent,” he says.

O Caso do Homem Errado tells the story of Júlio Cesar de Melo Pinto, a black man who was executed by the police of Porto Alegre in 1987.

Mariani-e-Camila-pre-estreia-com-marcha - Copy

Detained as being one of the assailants of a supermarket, the worker had left home without his RG (identification) and suffered an epileptic seizure before being arrested wrongly by the Military Brigade. Júlio César was photographed being placed alive in the police car, but half an hour later arrived at pronto socorro (emergency room) dead, from two shots.

Although it has happened more than 30 years ago, the episode remains current. According to the Mapa da Violência (Map of Violence) published in 2017 by the Brazilian office of the United Nations, of every ten people murdered in Brazil, seven are black. Blacks are 12 times more likely to be murdered in Brazil than non-blacks. And, of young people from 15 to 29 years, blacks are killed every 23 minutes.

Renato Candido - APAN

The obstacles to the theater

Among the obstacles of reaching a commercial showing, Moraes indicates both the difficulty to obtain financing and institutional racism.

A produtora Mariani Ferreira e a diretora Camila de Moraes (Fotos - Joana Berwanger-Sul21) - Copy

Producer Mariani Ferreira with diretor Camila de Moraes (Photo – Joana Berwanger)

She says that the process of making O Caso do Homem Errado began in 2010 and, although partnering with a film producer, it only materialized from the financial support of the comunidade negra (black community) of Porto Alegre.

The filmmaker revealed that since May she sought a distributor, but none expressed interest. For Moraes, this happens because many do not consider the theme of racism relevant.

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Camila de Moraes becomes first black woman in 34 years to get her film shown in a commercial theater

“In one of them, the person told me that our film didn’t have the profile. But it is not her family being killed. While Brazilian society doesn’t understand that the black population is being killed, our film will never have the profile,” she says.

Without a distributor, the job of regulating the film and negotiating with the theaters is being done by her and by Mariani Ferreira, who is also black and is the executive producer of the film.

Registros do fotógrafo de Zero Hora Ronaldo Bernardi denunciaram a execução de Júlio César

1987 picture of photographer caught the moment in which Júlio César was handcuffed and transferred in a Military Brigade vehicle

“We are negotiating with five other capitals [in addition to Porto Alegre], is a process at a snail’s pace,” explains Moraes.

According to Cândido, part of the films produced by cineastas negros (black filmmakers) has a better impact abroad than nationally. “It is difficult to enter into dialog with the market. It almost never sees us as a consumer, as a narrative that can sell, we have to create our distributors and parks of exhibition. But at the same time, we are trying to build dialogs.”

Meanwhile, in spite of the documentary de Moraes achieved the feat of being the second film of a black woman director to be shown commercially in Brazil, Adélia Sampaio remains the last and only one to occupy the post when it comes to a full-length work of fiction, with her film from 1984.

Source: Universa UOL

One comment on “With the release of documentary ‘The Case of the Wrong Man’, Camila de Moraes becomes first black woman director in 34 years to have film released in commercial theater – What took so long?

  1. charles merriweather
    May 22, 2018

    Wow! This is a really good article on black directors in Brazil, especially black women. We need more black directors of men and women in brazil to give us the stories we as foreigner are not privy to receive because we are far apart. I will look for this documentary over the summer.

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