Note from BW of Brazil: One of the principle aims of this blog is to present the experience of black Brazilian women to an English-speaking audience. But as there are so many issues that influence the lives of black women of Brazil that one need understand to have some of idea of what this means, we also feature a wide range of issues such as racism, racial identity, economics, politics, class issues, media, relationships and so many other factors. Through a number of personal writings, statistics, interviews, comments and current events, one may definitely come to the conclusion that life in Brazil can be difficult if one happens to be black, a woman and from a poor background. And if we were to judge simply from the way the mainstream media portrays black women, one may come away with the idea that most black Brazilian women are cooks, cleaning women, maids and Carnaval dancers.
But what if God were a black woman?
It would be an intriguing question for a religious country that is deeply racist and sexist. I mean, how would people who view black women as only those who serve coffee, who clean up after the family or are only worthy of sexual conquest react if they were to die, go to an imagined place of judgment and discover that this woman that is so underappreciated is actually what their supreme being looked like? Just imagine the looks on those faces at the discovery!
Anyway, this was the premise for a film of which a group of audio/visual students are hoping to attract the necessary funding. With the minimal presence of black women in Brazilian being a glaring omission of a large parcel of the population, a major breakthrough was made last year with the groundbreaking short film K-Bela, featuring a cast of black women and directed by a black woman. Today, black women are in fact leading the charge of what could some are labeling ‘Cinema Negro’. Today’s feature seeks to once again to tell the story of a black woman as protagonist and shine the spotlight on the experience of these women that is almost completely ignored in the media. Below is a brief introduction to the project. It would be great to see such a project get off the ground, so if you like what you see, please DO use the information below to contribute.
‘God is a black woman’: A film about the black mothers in the outskirts of São Paulo
Students launch a crowd-funding campaign to enable the filming of Deus, meaning God, which will depict the daily life of black mothers on the outskirts of São Paulo
By Thiago Gabriel and Pedro Borges
“Deus é uma mulher preta”, meaning God is a black woman. It’s from this formulation that Vinícius Silva, 25, a film student at the Federal University of Pelotas, seeks to produce a short film. The idea of the movie Deus (God) that will bring to the screen the everyday world of a black mother on the outskirts of São Paulo, was born of the personal trajectory of Vinícius himself, who will be the first in his family to complete a college course.
“My life has taken several turns, I have done many things wrong and came back. I thought, ‘how did I manage to get here?’ When I researched the background of my history, the answer fell onto the women in my family,” said Vinícius. The film will portray the routine of his aunt, Roseli, bringing not only the negative aspects of life on the outskirts of a big city, but also all the moments of joy that pervade the daily lives of these women, since life is not limited to suffering. With no interviews, Deus is like watching one week of this woman and her son, condensed between 15 and 20 minutes. It is a picture of the repetitive cycle that is renewed every Monday.
The project is a practical work for the completion of the course of Cinema and Audiovisual of the Federal University of Pelotas, by Débora Mitie, Huli Balász and Vinícius Silva. The work is the production of a hybrid short film, between documentary and fiction, which deals with the force of a black mother on the outskirts of São Paulo and its divine influence upon her child. The team is also composed of students from other semesters, such as Gabriela Montezi and Rodrigo Acedo, in addition to the recent graduate Jacqueline Almeida.
Teaser of the film ‘Deus’
“We don’t see these women being portrayed. And when you see them, it’s pure suffering. But life in the periphery is not only suffering. There’s joy and affection,” says the filmmaker. He also noted the important role played by mothers for youth of the periphery. “On the periphery, guys often don’t respect the law, they respect nothing but respect their mothers,” he adds.
The title of the project was born from the song “Mãe” (mother), by rapper Emicida. In the track, the rapper sings a tribute to his mother and explains in one line “Desafia, vai dar mó treta/Quando disser que vi Deus/Ele era uma mulher preta” – “Challenges, will bring a bunch of bullshit /When I say that say I saw God/He was a black woman.”
Vinícius says that, after listening to the song, he realized what would the theme of his course completion project would be, and joined his colleagues for the realization of Deus.
The film, as a representation of reality, seeks to give visibility and honor these women who sustain much of the country. They maintain the house, have to work and still educate their children. She is divine by giving birth, caring and kindness, but also for the ability of putting it on the line. Without them a poor black of the periphery does not reach 15.”
When he began to come up with the project, Vinícius came into contact with the production of Emicida, who authorized the free use of the song in the film.
In addition to addressing the issue of representation of these women in cinema in another way, the film seeks to bring a symbolic discussion, “breaking the idea that God is something masculine,” as Vinícius explained. “We also wanted to provoke the idea that God has no sex. But for society, he is the Lord, he is a guy. For us, he was never a guy. It’s a woman.”
The film will be initially enrolled in exhibitions and film festivals, national and international. It is intended to circulate, however, in non-academic and periphery environments of Brazil, bringing to the local community the exhibition of questions and discussions relevant to the work. With this film, we hope to contribute to society by promoting reflection, not only on film, but also on some social issues that affect the daily lives of women, black women, mothers, single, and the whole periphery of our country.
To enable the production of the film, the students created a crowd-funding campaign on Kickante, which seeks to cover the production costs for the realization of the short film as well as remunerating the staff and Roseli’s family.
Contribute to the project here.