on the prowl for adults



Considerations on the cinematographic representation of Latin American dictatorships

A review about Ways to go back home (Ways to go home, 2011), by Alejandro Zambra, led me to read this Chilean novel that deals with the confrontation between the protagonist's childhood in Maipú (Santiago district) and his adult phase in the post-Pinochet era. A topic that had everything to do with an issue that I was interested in: how children and adolescents experienced their parents' political activism in the 1960s and 1970s in South America. In an excerpt from his book, Zambra explains how these first years of existence passed in the shadow of other lives, committed to a project greater than the merely familiar:

“The romance was the romance of the parents, I thought then, I think now. We grew up believing that, that romance belonged to parents. Cursing us and also taking refuge, relieved, in this penumbra. While the adults killed or were killed, we drew pictures in a corner. While the country was falling apart, we learned to talk, to walk, to fold napkins in the shape of boats, airplanes. While the romance was happening, we played hide and seek”.

when presenting Ways to go back home, Alan Pauls defined it this way: “It is the life of those who grew up on the lookout for adults, tracking, interpreting, deciphering the signs of the great novel that their parents wrote while they lived”. The title of my text is derived from the expression “a lurche de”, used by the Argentine writer, because, in addition to referring to an attentive and continuous investigation, the idiom can also indicate a wait, and this duplicity seemed very interesting to me. address the cinematographic representation of Latin American dictatorships in the last fifty years, seen from the point of view of their most fragile protagonists.

Although my attention has turned to works produced between the end of the XNUMXth century and the present day, in which the protagonists themselves narrate their stories mainly in documentaries, the issue has also been addressed in previous or contemporary productions, especially in fictional form. I mean movies like we were never so happy (1984), by Murilo Salles, and The color of your destiny (1986), by Jorge Durán, which respectively focus on a young man confined first, for eight years, to a religious boarding school and later to an empty apartment in Rio de Janeiro, due to his father's militancy (whose image he manages to take over only with his death), and a Chilean teenager, who, forced to leave his country as a child after the coup, lives tormented by the ghosts of the past, becoming involved in an alleged attack against the Chilean consulate in Rio.

I refer to Chilean hurt (hurt, 2004), by Andrés Wood, in which two eleven-year-old boys, despite belonging to different social classes, are classmates in a prestigious religious school and end up separated by the confrontation of antagonistic forces in their country, in 1973, just when Pedro Machuca, the poor boy, could find his voice, encouraged by the school principal; and to the Argentine Kamchatka (Kamchatka, 2002), by Marcelo Piñeyro, in which a ten-year-old boy, the son of middle-class professionals, as a result of the arrest of his father's business partner, is forced to run away, hide and change his identity along with his five-year-old brother. years and their parents, until they end up leaving their offspring with their grandparents to protect them. Kamchatka, the last bastion of a war game played by father and son, becomes a metaphor for resistance to the terror established by the military coup in 1976. In the final sequence, while the parents' car is lost in the horizon of a country road, the voice-off of the eldest son says: “The last time I saw him, my father told me about Kamchatka. And this time, I understood. And every time I played, my dad was with me. When the game didn't go well, I kept going and survived. Because Kamchatka is the place to resist.”

I am referring to other Argentine achievements, such as private lives (private lives, 2001) by Fito Páez, and Cautious (2003), by Gastón Birabén, types of reverse of the medal of La historia official (the official story, 1985), by Luis Puenzo: in those, a boy and a girl, respectively, discover in a traumatic way that they are not the biological children of those who raised them, while, in the latter, a mother began to question herself about the origin of her adopted daughter. And still the Eva and Lola (2010), by Sabrina Farji, in which Eva, the daughter of a missing person, reveals to her friend that she was handed over to strangers as soon as she was born in a clandestine prison, and it is up to Lola to overcome or not the denial of the truth. Films in which present and past intertwine in painful family histories, full of secrets and unspoken things, as in Lamb of God (2008), by Lucía Cedrón.

And also the beheading game (2013), by Sérgio Bianchi, about a master's student in social sciences, whose dissertation will address the formation of armed groups during the dictatorship. Leandro – no longer a teenager, but not yet an adult – struggles between the suffocating domain of his mother, a former militant who went through the experience of torture, and the search for his own identity, through the recovery of his father's past, a former supporter of disbunde, that is, on the other side of the coin of a generation split between political positioning and libertarian attitude.

And finally, the Legality (2019), by Zeca Brito, about a journalist, born in 1964, who, forty years later, goes to Porto Alegre to find out who her mother was and ends up also discovering the name of her father, both disappeared during an armed confrontation, and the The other side of paradise (2014), in which, based on the autobiographical account of journalist Luiz Fernando Emediato (1980), André Ristum tells, from the point of view of one of his sons, how his father's dreams were crushed by the military coup of 1964, when he was arrested for his political militancy a year after the family moved from the interior of Minas Gerais to Taguatinga (a satellite city of Brasilia), in search of a better life.[1]

Directors Cao Hamburger, Benjamín Ávila and Flavia Castro, in The year my parents went on vacation (2006) Infancia clandestina (clandestine childhood, 2012) e I remember (2018), respectively, offered fictional works about situations they experienced as children. In the first, Hamburger tells the story of Mauro, a football fanatic boy, who, at the age of twelve, is left by his parents, political activists, with his paternal grandfather, the very day he dies. Forced to live with an old neighbor of his grandfather, Mauro spends his days waiting for a call from his parents, between sadness at being abandoned and euphoria for the 1970 World Cup. This is how the boy expresses his dissatisfaction with his father's absence: “And even without wanting to, or understanding it properly, I ended up becoming something called an exile. I think exile means having a father who is so backward, but so backward that he ends up never returning home”.

The films by Cao Hamburger and Murilo Salles, despite taking place during the dictatorship, do not focus so much on political facts, preferring to concentrate on the children's lack of knowledge about the activity of the father(s) and the impossibility of identifying the because of their abandonment, since the secret that determines their destiny is not revealed to them, having been decided by the adults. In the words of Júlio César de Bittencourt Gomes:

"we were never so happy it expressed, more than it told, a story of absence: that of the father, almost a stranger, who one day left without giving any news; that of references that could give meaning to things; that of a future, finally, minimally achievable that could hint at something beyond a perpetual oppressive and overwhelming present”.

O slogan of the government, which gives the film its title, calling Brazilians to happiness, did not reverberate in the loneliness and emptiness that are installed in Gabriel's life, representative of a generation lost between the triumphalist version of events given by power and the silence of his parents. In this way, as Gomes points out, the director entrusts the conduct of the story to the image rather than to the word:

“Thus, the anguish and the feeling of shattering experienced by the boy are made known to us through the fragmentation of the shots, which mimic his way of perceiving things, and not through any verbose and useless discourse; we feel more his perplexity in the face of the absence of meaning in everything by accompanying the camera that shows the naked apartment, than if we tracked a possible linear narrative that explained the reason for things”.

clandestine childhood - as Kamchatka – speaks of a child involved in a drama that he still cannot understand in its entirety, but that marked him forever: that of having to lead a double life because of the ideology of the parents. Ávila's film is more incisive, perhaps because it is an almost autobiographical story: Juan, an eleven-year-old boy – son and nephew of Montonero militants, who, in 1979, return clandestinely to Argentina to continue fighting against the dictatorship – is forced to live an invented family history and a dangerous game of constant identity change. When his parents' hiding place is discovered, he and his little sister are kidnapped, but only Juan will be freed, being dropped at the door of his grandmother's house.

As much as Childhood clandestine, I remember is also more in line with documentaries in which affective memory overlaps historical events: in it, the presence of autobiographical traits is constant, however always re-elaborated in order to trace, from a personal experience, the collective trajectory of a generation that grew up in the shadow of the militancy of his family members.

With the enactment of the Amnesty Law (August 28, 1979), the family of a young Brazilian woman, exiled in Paris, decides to return to Latin America. It is a multicultural and plurilingual family nucleus (all speak French, Spanish and Portuguese), because, when they left their country, Joana and her mother Bia reached Santiago, where they lived with Mercedes, Luis and Paco until the fall of Allende (11 September 1973), when the two Brazilians and the Chilean with their son fled to France. In Paris, Bia and Luis formed a new family, happy with the arrival of Léon. Joana, aka Jojô, is not happy with the prospect of returning to her homeland, which she seems to have no memory of, not even of her father, who died there when she was little. Upon arriving in Rio de Janeiro, Jojô and Léon are perplexed by the welcome that awaits the amnesty recipients. Through the half-open glass door, which separates the luggage sector from the lobby, they observe with strangeness the celebration whose euphoria they do not share.

The feeling that the two express is the same experienced by director Flavia Castro on her return to Brazil, aged fourteen, after nine absences: “when I returned […], there was a party at the airport. Still behind the landing glass, I perceived the euphoria outside: friends, family, banners, drumming, journalists… , projects and language. Perhaps, feeling that they, our parents, had experienced a decade ago. This party definitely wasn't mine, it wasn't ours. But the difference between the adults crying with emotion and my sadness was invisible”.

Living with her paternal grandmother, the guardian of Eduardo's past, becomes essential for Joana to go digging up and elaborating on facts that seemed lost in the limbo of oblivion, since Bia always avoids talking when her daughter brings up the subject. Thus, fragments of her past, which had been emerging since her return to Brazil, in the form of sensations in the face of certain situations, of images, voices and sounds, appear in flashes and Joana, when faced with a piece of newspaper from the time, photo of his childhood home, he realizes that memories of that period become more and more pressing.[2] According to the director, in a statement given to Rafael Carvalho: “It was during the editing of the documentary diary of a quest, absorbed by testimonies, letters, differences between my memories and those of other family members, that arose the desire to go further in a work on memory”.

As the poetry of Fernando Pessoa suggests,[3] which serves as the motto of the film, Joana goes through two consecutive stages, that of recovering the memory of a traumatic event and that of appeasement with that past. That is why the title of the film is composed of the verbal form “I remember” – which appears on the screen from the last to the first letter –, to which a negation prefix is ​​added.

In the words of the writer, philosopher and psychologist Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, “remembering does not only mean remembering, but also forgetting: in memory nothing is lost, […] the past is preserved integrally, and […] forgetting is a defense against the emergence of this stored past each time we need to draw on it. This meant that the greatest and most important function of memory is not remembering, but forgetting. We forget so as not to drown in an endless tsunami of memories”.

Se I remember is the elaboration of the mourning provoked by the absence of the father figure and the overcoming of this trauma, clandestine childhood is a bitter reflection that casts doubt on the validity of an internecine struggle that bordered on madness, in all the countries where it was fought and on both sides, as also revealed by documents and photos discovered not long ago in the National Archives. in Rio de Janeiro, which show how security agencies treated the children of left-wing militants.

For a period, it was believed that the Brazilian dictatorship had not handed over children of opponents to other families, although in fiction doubts had already been raised about this: in the telenovela love and revolution (SBT, 2011-2012), by Tiago Santiago, Renata Dias Gomes and Miguel Paiva, in which children are adopted by military personnel; and in “Cenas de um kidnapping”, which is part of the volume Will you come back to me and other stories (2014), by Bernardo Kucinski, in which it is insinuated that there were attempts to have children of militants adopted by other families. In recent years, however, Eduardo Reina has dedicated himself to filling this gap in our recent history, first in a fictional work, After Tutoia Street (2016); then in an investigative text of a journalistic nature, endless captivity (2019). In the novel, Verônica – the daughter of a couple of subversives arrested at the DOI-Codi on Rua Tutóia (São Paulo) and handed over to the family of a businessman who financed the repression – seeks to unravel her origin. In the second book, the so-called “cursed babies”, up to four or six years old, are taken from their parents, dead or imprisoned, in the Araguaia region (where, above the age of six, “subversive children” were considered ideologically contaminated and therefore eliminated), in Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco, Paraná and Mato Grosso, to be illegally adopted by the military or by families that supported the dictatorship.

Many children were first sent to Algeria and, later, to Cuba, after having been classified as subversives, when not arrested along with adults or forced to watch their parents die, or even see them being abused. or after torture sessions, as found in the series of five reports Children and torture (Rede Record), coordinated by Luiz Carlos Azenha and winner of the 2013 Esso de Telejornalismo Award, and as reported by some of the interviewees in 15 children (1996), in which Maria Oliveira and Marta Nehring collected their own testimonies and those of other children of left-wing militants arrested and, for the most part, tortured and killed during the dictatorship.

Other children had to go into exile with their families in Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, as recalled by some of the interviewees, in the documentary mentioned above, or, in diary of a quest (2010), by director Flavia Castro and her brother, or in repair bem (2012), in which Maria de Medeiros gives voice to the daughter and companion of Eduardo Leite “Bacuri”, Eduarda and Denise Crispim, or, still, for the children of Mara Curtiss Alvarenga and Affonso Alvarenga in Seventy (2013), by Emília Silveira. In the “extra” statement that opens the film by Maria Oliveira and Marta Nehring, Ivan Seixas points out, as representative music of the period, to our children (Ivan Lins and Vitor Martins, 1978), trying to quote part of the lyrics: “Forgive the frown / forgive the shortness of breath / the days were like that.” –, but asking for forgiveness was not enough to help children and young people overcome the trauma suffered and not make demands, as happens, for example, in Argentine documentaries Finding Victor (2004), by Natalia Bruschstein, with questions about the symptomatic silences that are installed when family life and political militancy are confronted [4], and The time and the blood (2004), by Alejandra Almirón, which records the testimony of former Montonera Sonia Severini, who questions herself about what is left of the revolutionary practice and is faced with the complaints of the children of the militants of her generation. With regard to this issue of abandonment, the most emblematic film is that of Macarena Aguiló, The building of the Chileans (The Chilean Building.

Macarena Aguiló, at the age of nine, started to participate in the Hogares project [Homes Project], in which sixty Chilean children, children of MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria) militants, formed part of the so-called “social families”, along with volunteers who replaced their biological parents when, in the late 1970s, they returned to Chile to engage in the clandestine struggle against the dictatorship.[5] The community project was first developed in Belgium (more freely) and then in Cuba, where the children all lived together in a building near Havana, which became known as “the Chilean building”.[6] Despite having been the protagonist of the events, the filmmaker narrates them in a restrained way, without turning her work into a confrontation between generations, without demands and without judging the final result of the parents' political action.

As Jorge Ruffinelli underlines: “Macarena Aguiló tackles the theme [...], with tenacity and sweetness. It is a work apparently smooth for its style, but a powerful force in the construction of meanings. The Chilean Building is melancholic and, at the same time, with regard to the author and her “social brothers”, summoned here, it functions as a kind of therapeutic exercise that consists, above all, in witnessing and speaking, although, as several point out, they were never able to carry out this dialogue with their parents when they returned to their families. The documentary is painful – like an open wound – and, at the same time, anti-sentimental and anti-melodramatic. A theme, which could have opened the doors to emotional manipulation, on the contrary, is cautious, refined, intelligent. It is known [...] that the deepest emotion is realized in the relationship between what is said and what is silent. And her documentary is silent and says, in many ways: with the use of letters from her parents, which the young woman miraculously kept ('hidden treasure'); with the testimonies – including ideological revisionism – of historical participants (the most eloquent here is Iván, the 'social father'); with drawings and animation sequences of great symbolic density; with numerous photos and some archival footage and some new footage about the places (the 'building', the Cuban school) where they lived; the record of the children's spirit of collective activity (work and play) and that of Cuba's solidarity with Chile”.

Em Calle Santa Fe (Santa Fe Street, 2007), Carmen Castillo, companion of Miguel Enríquez, the head of the MIR killed in combat, had focused on Macarena Aguiló working on her documentary and interviewed the director's mother about the Hogares project, but this continued to justify past choices. And it is to her mother and her current partner that the filmmaker delivers, scanned and bound, the letters she received in Cuban exile, which, however, as Ruffinelli underlines, “never managed to replace the absence. Somehow, The Chilean Building it is a refund. It is a cinematic 'letter' that one of those girls, now an adult, delivers to us, to an entire generation blinded by idealism. The film is an important documentary contribution to history, but above all it implies a desire for communication. In a sequence, a girl reflects on why adults never take her musings or advice seriously. This time, it is necessary to listen and see – and accept – with ears and eyes wide open”.

With 15 sons, Finding Victor, The time and the blood e The Chilean Building, enters the field of documentaries shot by a new generation of filmmakers in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.

The filmmakers of Papa Ivan (Daddy Ivan, María Inés Roqué, 2000), The blondes (the blond ones, Albertina Carri, 2003), M (M, Nicolás Prividera, 2007), The (im)possible forgetfulness (The (im)possible oblivion, Andrés Habbeger, 2016), from macabre animation The slaughter (María Giuffra, 2005) and those already mentioned The time and the blood e Finding Victor, in general terms, oppose the memory of extermination and disappearance to the amnesia imposed by state terrorism.

They are first-person documentaries,[7] whose fragmented narratives correspond to the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in which, frequently, one element is missing to complete the figure: in Prividera's film, the presence of the cork board in the center of which the author places the portrait of his mother is symptomatic, to go aggregating data around a character that the outsider's eye cannot capture in its entirety. Among these Argentine documentaries, M is what is most openly proposed to make the passage from the individual to the collective level, since the director's question is broader from a historical point of view, but, at the same time, it does not fail to present a very symbolic act. significant in the personal sphere: that of giving his mother a kind of burial (the small monument inaugurated at the place of his work), in one of those ceremonials that give meaning to life, by returning it to its most common, banal, customary form.

Em Daddy Ivan, as well as in Finding Victor, it is the mother who plays a key role in the remembrance task, as it is from her speech that María Inés Roqué extracts significant details about the father figure. Despite the predominance of Azucena Rodríguez's account over the testimonies of comrades in the FAR (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias) and montoneros, what enables the emergence of the man and not just the militant, in the end, it is the identity of the hero that imposes itself and for the director, as a daughter, remains painfully open to the issue that marked her childhood: the absence of her father, whose shadow is projected over her adult life.

In this sense, I tend to agree with Ana Amado, when she alludes to an Oedipal scene that is established in Daddy Ivan and in other movies like The slaughter, El tiempo y la sangre, Finding Víctor e the blond ones (which I would exclude), and since these are works by female filmmakers, whose remarkable presence among the authors of autobiographical documentaries on memory is highlighted by the essayist herself, I would prefer to refer to these directors as Electras in mourning, for not being able to – how they convey their accomplishments – filling the emotional void resulting from the loss of a father figure or because it does not correspond to the image they built during childhood, as happens in diary of a quest and, by crooked ways, in Wood knife (Wooden skewer, 2010), by Renate Costa.

If with lucha secrets (fighting secrets, 2007), Maiana Bidegain epicly reconstructs the resistance of her father and other family members to the dictatorship in Uruguay,[8] Flavia Castro, in the aforementioned diary of a quest, when investigating the life and mysterious death of his father, wonders about his absence from the glorious memory of opposition to the dictatorship, to which the parents of Joca Grabois, Priscila Arantes, Wladimir and Gregório Gomes, Janaina and Edson Telles, Ernesto Carvalho belong , Marta Nehring, André Herzog, Chico Guariba, Telma and Denise Lucena, Maria Oliveira, Tessa Lacerda and Rosana Momente, rescued from the limbo of legal indetermination, to which they had been condemned, for the testimonies given in the aforementioned 15 children, as well as Carlos Marighella and his wife Clara Charf, rescued by Isa Grinspum Ferraz in marighella (2012), and Iara Iavelberg and her partner Carlos Lamarca, remembered by Flávio Frederico with In search of Yara (2013); a recognition that the character of Maria Clara Escobar avoids, in the days with him (2013).

In a sequence of the film, the framed empty chair appears as a symbol of the interviewee's constant refusal to surrender to the camera, which tries in vain to search him, to surprise him, even when he is or seems to be distracted. It is around this refusal that prevents her from cinematographically representing her paternal past that Maria Clara Escobar builds her work, as if it were a filming diary.

While Paula Fiuza, in Sobral – the man who was priceless (2012) traces the itinerary of the lawyer Heráclito Fontoura Sobral Pinto, famous for having defended many political prisoners, during the Estado Novo and in the period of the civil-military dictatorship, Antonia Rossi, in The echo of the songs (The echo of songs, 2010) seems more interested in rescuing a very personal introspective journey, in a kind of “self-knowledge, reflection and identity reconstruction process” (as Natalia Christofoletti Barrenha stated), wandering, at the mercy of memories, between Chile, the country of her parents, and Italy, land of exile, where she was born, in a work in which the fissure between visual and sound is taken to the extreme, unlike Renate Costa, who, in the aforementioned Wooden skewer, by focusing on a case that affected his family, manages to draw a picture of the dictatorship of silence and consensus imposed in Paraguay.

The day that lasted 21 years (2012), by Camilo Tavares, is different from that vein of first-person or character-centered documentaries, as it seeks to reconstruct a historical and collective memory of the events that shook Brazil in 1964, although these directly affected the director's life. On the contrary, those of Pablo Larraín are still more personal reflections, as he distanced himself both from his father's conservative ideas and from those of the old left, in the fictional trilogy dedicated to the seventeen years of the Chilean dictatorship. Started with Tony Manero (Tony Manero, 2008) and carried forward in Post dead (Post dead, 2010), culminates in No (No, 2012), a film about the dispute between the left and the right in the 1988 plebiscite. The refusal of General Augusto Pinochet's pretensions to remain in power ended up winning precisely because, thanks to a young publicist, the beaten Slogans of left-wing propaganda are replaced by a persuasion campaign based on the logic of capitalist advertising.

The narratives of these new Latin American filmmakers about occurrences that often took place before their birth or when they still could not understand them – in which, not infrequently, the revolutionary cause of adults comes into contrast with the affective needs of the most young people – are often private and public stories, family and collective stories at the same time, because told by those who have kinship ties with the protagonists of the focused facts.

This is the case of the Argentines Benjamín Ávila, son of a montonera and brother of a kidnapped boy who was only found again in 1984; Natalia Bruschstein, daughter of Víctor Bruschstein Bonaparte, member of the PRT-ERP (Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores–Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo), disappeared in 1977; Albertina Carri, daughter of the Montoneros Roberto Carri and Ana María Caruso, kidnapped in 1971 and disappeared in 1977; Lucía Cedrón, daughter of director Jorge Cedrón, exiled in France with her family and killed under mysterious circumstances; María Giuffra, daughter of a missing person; Andrés Habbeger, son of journalist and activist Norberto Habbeger, disappeared in Rio de Janeiro in 1978; Nicolás Prividera, son of Marta Serra, kidnapped and disappeared; María Inés Roqué, daughter of the montonero Juan Julio Roqué (alias Iván Lino), murdered in 1977; Brazilians Flavia Castro, daughter of an exile, journalist Celso Afonso Gay Castro; Maria Clara Escobar, daughter of the playwright, poet and essayist Carlos Henrique Escobar; Isa Grinspum Ferraz, niece of Clara Charf, Marighella's companion; Paula Fiuza, granddaughter of Sobral Pinto; Cao Hamburger, nephew of a political prisoner, the set designer and costume designer Flávio Império, and son of professors Ernest Hamburger and Amélia Império Hamburger, detained for a brief period in 1970, when the future director and his four siblings went to live with their grandmothers; Marta Nehring, daughter of Norberto Nehring, member of the ALN (Aliança Libertadora Nacional), who died under torture in 1970, and Maria Oliveira, daughter of former political prisoners Eleonora Menicucci de Oliveira and Ricardo Prata; screenwriter and producer Mariana Pamplona, ​​niece of Iara Iavelberg, whose life and militancy are reconstructed, dismantling the official version of her suicide; André Ristum, born in London, son of student activists from Ribeirão Preto, forced to go into exile in 1967; Camilo Tavares, who was born in Mexico during his father's exile, journalist and writer Flavio Tavares; the Chilean Macarena Aguiló, daughter of Hernán Aguiló and Margarita Marchi, militants of the MIR; Antonia Rossi, daughter of Chilean exiles; the Paraguayan Renate Costa, niece of Rodolfo Costa, arrested and tortured during the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner for being homosexual; of Maiana Bidegain, daughter and niece of political activists, born in France, the country where her father took refuge after being arrested and tortured during the Uruguayan military period.

With the exception of one or the other, the documentaries mentioned in this text are narrated in the first person. The filmmakers are present with their personal stories, their questions about the past, their reflections on the projection of past events in the present time, and they are also physically present, with their bodies, their voices: they are the protagonists of their works.

Beatriz Sarlo took a stand against this proliferation of first-person accounts, in which, by preferring to “recover and favor a dimension more linked to the human, to everyday life, to the more personal”, “the more specifically political dimension of history” would have been neglected. . Indeed, for the most part, these documentaries are not assertive but interactive; they do not provide answers, but raise new questions; When they open the “drawer of finds”, that is, when they trigger memory, they do not seek to reestablish the historical truth, but seek the truth of each work, because, as Iberê Camargo stated: “The truth of the work of art is the expression that it conveys to us. Nothing more than that". Consequently, instead of seeing this option as an emptying of the political question, it seems more interesting to me to think of it as another way of writing a history – and not only private, but also collective – engendered by these new agents, from a sphere personal in which the political and the affective intertwine.

Therefore, it is not always possible to agree with Ana Amado, when she observes that there was a passage from the memory of the protagonists of those years to a kind of “post-memory” of their descendants, a term he borrows from Marianne Hirsch, for whom he designates second-generation works, that is, those made by artists who report traumatic experiences lived indirectly, since prior to their birth, transmitted so deeply within the family, to the point of constituting personal memories. In the case of screen films, we cannot forget that, most of the time, the protagonists of these stories were also the directors themselves in their childhood or adolescence.

Without ignoring the fact that several filmmakers were more concerned than others with recovering the history of their predecessors – I am referring to the directors of The day that lasted 21 years, Sobral – the man who was priceless, In search of Yara, fighting secrets, born after the narrated events, but also from marighella, M, Daddy Ivan, The slaughter, 15 sons, diary of a quest –, it is impossible not to emphasize the clash between generations that is established in films like Finding Victor, the days with him ou Wooden skewer, in which, more than rescuing pages from her uncle's life, what interests Renate Costa is to contrast her father's conservatism and conformism in the face of the family and national drama, or to recognize that in The Chilean Building, The echo of songs e the blond ones, although the previous issues are not absent, what becomes central is the construction of one's own history, one's own identity.

Albertina Carri, for example, does not accept the version of facts consolidated by the previous generation and expresses this refusal by incorporating the reading of the fax in which the Film Commission, made up of former militants, demands a greater presence of testimonies that highlight the side heroic of the story to be filmed; testimonials that are present in the work, but tangentially, as additional data and not as determining elements, as the director prefers to rely on her intuitive memory and, more than reconstructing an occurrence from the past, is interested in registering how she revives it in the past. present, as she elaborates her film, a film “about the feeling of absence, about emptiness, which asks for an explanation about this absence” (in the words of Daniela Reynoso, reported by Miguel Pereira).

In this sense, what is evident in the blond ones it is the search and not the result, it is the various possibilities of approaching the reconstitution of the kidnapping and disappearance of the parents – as well as its consequences in the life of the filmmaker and the sisters – through the predominance of metalanguage, the use of dolls and accessories Playmobil to recompose broken family situations and the traumatic event itself, the fictional construction that contaminates the documentary, the unfolding of the protagonist, with the often simultaneous presence of the actress who plays Albertina and the director herself on stage, which confuses the narrating voice at first person. It is these mediations, however, that allow the filmmaker to distance herself from the reported facts, overcome the trauma, take away the mourning, affirm her story and not that of her parents.

If it is true that, before, “romance belonged to the parents”, as Zambra suggests, it is no less true that many of these new filmmakers have already left the “penumbra” in which they were lying in wait for adults – waiting for them, as the characters did. fictional works of Gabriel and Mauro in we were never so happy e The year my parents went on vacation –, to write their own stories, their own letters and film diaries, their own novels.

*Mariarosaria Fabris is a retired professor at the Department of Modern Letters at FFLCH-USP. Author, among other books, of Italian cinematographic neo-realism: a reading (Edusp).

Modified version of the article that was part of the volume Image, memory and resistance, organized by Yanet Aguilera and Marina da Costa Campos (Discurso Editorial, 2016).



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[1] The production incorporates never-before-seen footage of the 1964 military coup, shot by cameraman Jean Manzon on March 31st and April 1st, and images of Brasília, contradictions of a new city (1967), a censored short film by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade .

[2] As Oscar Cuervo warns, however, “the mechanisms of memories are not transparent, there is always an opaque remainder”. A good example, in this sense, is the film Das Lied in mir (The Day I Wasn't Born, 2010), by Florian Cossen, in which a young professional swimmer of German nationality, listening to a lullaby in Spanish at the Buenos Aires airport while waiting for a connection to Chile, recognizes the lyrics and melody that rocked her in tender childhood. In this way, she recovers her brief Argentine past as a daughter of disappeared people and goes in search of her relatives, when she discovers that, when she was adopted, when she was three years old, her parents took her away from her biological family.

[3] “I forget uncertainly. My past” (1934): “I forget uncertainly. My past / I don't know who lived it. If I myself went, / I am confusedly forgetful / and then cloistered in me flows. / I don't know who I was or am. I ignore everything. / There's only what I see now – / the natural and mute green field / that a wind that I don't see vaguely emerges. / I'm so stuck in myself that I don't even feel it. / I see and where [the] valley rises to the slope / my gaze goes following my instinct / like someone looking at the table that has been set”.

[4] Also in maidens' tower (2018), by Susanna Lira, political prisoners at the Tiradentes Prison (São Paulo) report their difficulties in telling their family members what happened to them during the period they were incarcerated.

[5] This fact is also discussed in I remember, as Luis will leave his children in Brazil to participate in the attempt to counter-coup the Pinochet government, articulated by the MIR, reaching Chile through the path of Pablo Neruda. It was a matter of entering Argentina to cross the Andes Mountains and reach Santiago, that is, to go backwards along the path of the communist poet in 1948, in order to escape the imprisonment decreed under the Maldita Law, an episode reconstructed in the film Neruda (Neruda, 2015), by Pablo Larraín. Joana fights with Luis for what she considers a lack of attention to the two boys, telling him that she doesn't want to go to Cuba. It is the fear of a new exile, another “invisible exile”, as Flavia Castro called it, to which the offspring of the militants was subjected in those years.

[6] This was not a new practice, since, on March 26, 1933, the “International House for Children Elena Stasova”, better known as interdom (international Home), which replaced the small international school for children of communists in Vaskino, on the outskirts of Moscow. Located in Ivanovo, a textile town 290 km northwest of the capital, the boarding school had been founded, under the direction of the Soviet section of International Red Aid, to welcome and educate “the best children of the best revolutionaries in the world”, as the journalist wrote. Massimo Cirri in An'altra part of the world. While parents struggled against fascist ideology, in “Soviet Oxford”, children often grew up lonely, unhappy and uprooted. This saga, which lasted until more recent times, was recorded in the Portuguese documentary The children of Ivanovo (2003), by Ivan Dias, and in The children of clandestinity: the history of the breakdown of communist families in exile (Lisbon: Bertrand, 2016), by historian Adelino Cunha, in addition to the aforementioned book by Cirri.

[7] I am leaving aside the discussion about what could be the best expression to designate the presence of the eu in documentary discourse: “first-person documentary”, “subjective documentary” or “performative documentary”. In this sense, cf. the texts in which he was widely treated, such as the essays collected by Pablo Piedras and Natalia Christofoletti Barrenha and the article by this same author.

[8] The balance that results from the documentary Tell Mario not to return (Tell Mario not to come back, 2007), by Mario Handler, is more disenchanted.

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