Note from BW of Brazil: Film production with black Brazilians both in front of and behind the cameras has been one of the most exciting developments in black Brazilian entertainment, along with the rise of black theater, in recent years. And this push for black representation in Brazilian cinema has been spearheaded by black women. Although most of the productions have been limited to the short film variety, a number of Afro-Brazilian female filmmakers have been receiving accolades and making strides in knocking down the barriers that Brazil’s audio-visual industry continues to maintain. When we see the fact that Afro-Brazilian filmmakers are recognized more overseas more than in Brazil, there could only be one factor that explains why it took nearly four decades from the first time a black woman made a feature length film until another Afro-Brazilian woman managed to accomplish this feat again. In the story below, black film researcher Edileuza Penha tells us that only that little word starting with an “r” and ending with an “m” could possibly explain this issue.
Although many Brazilians would go out of their way to deny this, it’s really not that hard to tell. How else do you explain data from a study that shows that of 142 Brazilian feature films 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? The film exhibition that recently took place in the capital city demonstrates the fact that there are a number of talented black Brazilian women who are more than capable enough to write, produce and direct films. But the question remains, when will these women start attaining the funds to make bigger budget films and when will they begin to have their films distributed nationally like other films make by white directors featuring primarily white casts? There are no more excuses.
The place of the black woman in cinema is highlighted in an event that brings together 20 films at the University of Brasília
By Luiza Garonce
The Mostra Adélia Sampaio (Adélia Sampaio Exhibition), in honor of the first black female film director of Brazil, goes from November 26 to 30 with free admission. See schedule.
The place of the black woman in cinema is the theme of the 2nd Mostra Adélia Sampaio, which started on Monday (26) and goes until Friday (30), at the University of Brasília (UnB). There will be 20 independent films, all produced by black women directors. Admission is free.
Idealized by the filmmaker and professor of the department of audiovisual Edileuza Penha, the event throws light on the feminine and black presence in Brazilian filmmaking, behind and in front of the cameras. The exhibition received 86 entries from all over Brazil.
“It’s an exhibition that brings different glimpses of black filmmaking,” says Edileuza.
At the opening, at 7:00 pm on Monday, the movie Café com canela by Glenda Nicácio will be shown. The film was awarded three times at the 50th Festival de Brasília do Cinema Brasileiro (Festival of Brasilia of Brazilian Cinema) in 2017. Before the session, at 6:00 pm, the director will participate in a roundtable.
The films in question cover different aspects of blackness, such as the daily life of mulheres negras (black women), the particularities of the female experience, identidade negra (black identity) and ancestry (see schedule below).
There will also be screenings of young filmmakers – many of them university students – and award-winning directors such as Danddara and Camila de Moraes.
Besides the DF (Federal District), the films come from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco, Bahia, Amazonas and Espírito Santo. The event also offers Feira Preta and round tables.
Edileuza Penha, who works with “Visual ethnology of the image of the black in cinema” since 2009 at UnB, says that the production of films by black men and women, as well as discipline, are still “in erasure”. Since creation, the material is part of the extension deanery and not the obligatory grade of the course.
Racism and reaction
The filmmaker and professor says that while filmmaking by black women is increasing, productions are still relegated to an “alternative circuit”, where the predominance is of short films.
According to Edileuza, the main explanation for this is still the most obvious: racism. “It’s a structural issue,” she says.
“If you take Adélia Sampio, who was the first black female filmmakers in Brazil and who produced the first lesbian film in Latin America in 1981 and analyzed the erasure of this woman in history, there is no other explanation than racism.”
Another example of Edileuza to elucidate the context of exclusion and erasure by racial prejudice is the director Danddara, who has produced films since the 1990s – some of them exhibited at international festivals. “But here in Brazil, she doesn’t have the same recognition.”
Data from the Agência Nacional do Cinema (National Cinema Agency) (Ancine) show that of the 142 Brazilian films that debuted in 2016, only 28 were directed by women. None of them were directed or scripted by a black woman.
The 35-year hiatus between the film Amor maldito, released in 1983 by Adélia Sampaio, and the second Brazilian feature directed by a black woman, O dia de Jerusa, produced in 2018 by Viviane Ferreira, is another reflection of this scenario.
In an interview in May, Viviane spoke about the importance of affirmative public policies, as a way of making viable productions that are not usually contemplated in the traditional cinema circuit.
“The film is only possible because it is an affirmative action resource. If it had not been a specific edict for black directors, it would not have been possible.”
The invisibility and lack of representation of black and female narratives have been replaced by the insistence of women who, even without any financial support, join forces to bring the film screens new looks.
According to the organizers, “the struggle of women like Adélia, Edileuza, Viviane, Danddara, Camila and many others is for narratives that contemplate the reality and the experience of the black population, especially women. Breaking stereotypes and prejudices, assuming roles of protagonism in the stories and building new ways of making movies.”