#and now what

Piet Mondrian, Truncated View of the Broekzijder Mill on the Gein, Wings Facing West, c. 1902-03


Commentary on the film by Jean-Claude Bernardet and Rubens Rewald

Since October 2018, anyone with blood in their veins and not deaf ears has been asked a question: “What now, José?”. It is precisely the attempt to answer it, as well as to investigate its contours, that the filmic essay proposes. #and now what (2020), by Jean-Claude Bernardet and Rubens Rewald.

Despite the attempt to probe the facts and what goes on in the main figure associated with the left today, the intellectual, it is a fiction film, precisely because it tries to capture the Real. This is evident in the montage, as well as in some moments of the plot.

As for the montage, the work of fiction appears with the sequences, almost all of which are long, making viewers think that it is a life lived without any camera, as well as in the different assembled materials – combined scenes, conference videos and filmed speeches. by cell phone, whether by the protagonist or the supporting actors –, which in itself denounces that this is not a documentary or a newspaper article.

One of the mechanisms used in the film to bring it closer to the Real are the scene proposals without predetermined dialogue. The interaction between the actors is what will determine where the scene goes, roughly speaking. Despite the attempt to capture reality, the script exists and it is denounced in the film itself: in the bandstand scene, in which the intellectual protagonist Vladimir (Vladimir Safatle) is defending himself and trying to reason with a black man from the periphery (played by Valmir do Côco), who raves about the disgrace of life and the difference between worlds.

At a certain point the intellectual is silent. He turns to someone who is not in the scene, disarms himself and says: “I don't know what to say”. At the take Next, the intellectual Vladimir Safatle says to his scene partner (who plays the peripheral): “(…) but I think you're right”. The movements of actor Vladimir and the actor from the periphery are different and completely different from the staged clash. This indeed is the true backstage of the fiction of a self-absorbed intellectual who must suffer (by the hands of his own deconstructed companions) the weight of not being able to speak or be heard anymore, not the scenes that try to paint the backstage of a sheltered intellectual – whether in an office, living room or classroom. A mounted scapegoat. A narcissistic ritual.

The film can be placed in a genealogy that begins with the classic earth in trance, by Glauber Rocha. In it, the figure of the intellectual begins to be thought, and the trance is precisely the fact that the thread that began to be woven between the intelligentsia and the Brazilian people was cut. The years pass and we have in Sérgio Bianchi a continuation of this tradition, but now thinking of the intellectual from the cynicism of someone who consciously adheres to order (chronically unfeasible, 2000) or who, from being a militant, becomes financially compensated by the State (beheading game.

Yes, #and now what deals with this same figure in the key of despair of those who already had their ties broken in 64 and whose peers joined the order, who see Brazil, which has always been in tatters, collapsing before our eyes, but who do not know what to do and what they do is something for themselves – be it through the montage of scenes that overlap each other with no time to breathe, through the proposals that paint the incommunicable intellectual, through clippings of excerpts from speeches by leaders of social movements trying to make the giant wake up again ( sometimes carrying out their own health condition, “on stage”). Deeper and deeper the trance in which we live and in which we find ourselves entangled.

We are still the same and increasingly self-absorbed. We have some symptoms of it. Otherwise, let's see: The first of them is the appearance, in one of the first scenes of the film, of a trance scene played by an actor from… Teatro Oficina, the ultimate symbol of “us”. to us” of the post-coup left.[1] The second is the unique, quick and paradigmatic appearance of the model of intellectual engaged in the Brazilian redemocratization process: Marilena Chaui. Imposingly and infecting everyone with his authority and leadership, in an event held at Cidade Universitária and captured by a cell phone camera (vertical), to prepare the nascent intellectuality for what would come, right after Jair Bolsonaro's victory, says “good evening, USP”. Cut. It is the model of Vladimir Safatle. An attempt is made to replicate and update the model without the historical conditions that formed it. We live like our parents, but in a different world.

Still on genealogy, let's go back to the film: the family represented by the student daughter Valentina (Valentina Ghiorzi), the professor father Vladimir and the veteran grandfather Jean-Claude (Jean-Claude Bernardet). The first representing the generation of those “who woke up” in the June days and took the left path, who complain that the father only goes public when he has to appear, and does like him: he appears filmed speaking on a platform, only a caricature from the parent – ​​he has nothing to say, he just rages against everything to a group of students, probably his colleagues; at another moment, she appears in a small auditorium where she sings like an artist in a trance without contact with the public (the fourth wall is back!), accompanied on the piano by her… father.

Father Vladimir, the very intellectual who wants to go a step further, but cannot get out of his thought experiments (one of the hypotheses that can be used to interpret the film is that everything that happens takes place in the head of the protagonist) , already in Brazil of the “decline of the bachelors”; who wants a revolution, but who doesn't want it the way they've been done until today. Grandfather Jean-Claude, on the other hand, tries to somehow reactivate the impetus of pre-1964 Brazil.

This figure is interesting, as it reminds us of the aforementioned earth in trance: is the only character who, despite all the regrets, still tries against the current order of things. Like Glauber's classic, like Paulo Martins, he takes up arms, but at the time of “let's see”, he does not aim at his “real” targets (in 1967, he shoots at the sky, in 2020, at a cardboard target ). Another similarity: he is the only one who has direct contact with the one he must fight – in 1967, with the obscurantist ruling class, and in 2020, with the emancipated jagunços.

Both yesterday and today, the solution? The groundwork. How to do this? Going there! The film makes two experiments in this regard.

The first of them is the conversation between Matilde/Palomaris (Palomaris Mathias) and Dona Lu. The first, a black woman university student, intellectual partner of the protagonist. Perhaps this is the most realistic moment in the film. A dialogue between a woman who needs resources to undertake and someone who has the money to invest. The scene begins after Palomaris arrives from a conversation with the “council”, who decided to give part of the amount desired by the participant, making her suffer and humiliate herself to ask for a little more, which she was obviously denied. The board and the criteria for its selection, as well as for deciding the amount of value are not declared, as never before in the world outside the cinema screen. The intellectual, representative of a class that controls cash flow. The sentence to the entrepreneur: accept and do your best. In fact, a microcosm of the decades 1994-2014.

The second is the moment when Vladimir sits down to talk to the periphery, in a room surrounded by men and women playing peripheral people. First, we have a sterilized environment: a classroom in a circle, without any noise, just the speech of the professor and his interlocutors – the intellectual's natural habitat. We don't need to leave the world of cinema to see that there is something wrong: just pay attention to the open mic of Adirley Queirós and Affonso Uchoa's films to realize that the so-called peripheral environment has a soundtrack, and it is not incidental – it is, in fact, greater amount, funks and gospel and in third place the raps, besides a lot of noise.

Furthermore, in terms of the content of the characters' speeches in the experiment room, we have an “acculturated” periphery: the jargon used, the schemes, the mannerisms, the answers are what we hear in conversations in the corridors of public universities, whose content is subject to a history of ideas that began in the North of the World in the second half of the 20th century. Despite regionalism, the language is the same, it is what is conventionally called “identity” and “place of speech”. In other words, a strictly university debate. It is not a debate between an intelligentsia and a periphery. Precisely, a fiction film, the fiction of an intelligentsia that believes it is debating something with someone and, however, continues to test its own hypotheses and arguments.

#and now what it tries, as we said, to answer the questions that made us lose our way, and it keeps getting further and further away from its objective.

Perhaps the main reason for all this despair is due to the error of the question that should be asked, in order to then pursue an answer, in this case, through art. Here's another hypothesis: instead of the progressive “where did we go wrong? How do we resume the process?” one should ask the question “since when did we become part of the problem?”. That's where the real issue is and that's the real change from the times of yore to the scorched earth of today. During the 64 coup, the PCB, then the main figure of the left, before which the whole of it revolved around, had its mistakes. It turns out that he always opposed the order. Paid for it. Today's left, whose figurehead is the PT, is itself part of the problem, has joined the "rituals of suffering"[2] diaries, hence their demoralization since all this was desecrated. According to André Singer, it is worth remembering that Lulism is a conservative pact. Now, if we are all around him (whether to affirm it or to say that “it is not enough”), we are on the threshold of contagion from this pact. We are part of the problem that became Brazil-platypus. Who knows, changing the question, we might have other artistic answers and better days for the left and for those it loves.

*Joao Marcos Duarte, actor and speech therapist is a doctoral student in linguistics at the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB).



#and now what
Brazil, 2020, 70 minutes
Direction and script: Jean-Claude Bernardet and Rubens Rewald
Photography Andre Moncaio
Editing by Gustavo Aranda
Cast: Vladimir Safatle, Palomaris Mathias, Jean-Claude Bernardet.



[1] About this, check out the unavoidable “Culture and politics 1964-1969”, by Roberto Schwarz, published in the collection The Father of the Family and Other Essays (São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 1979).

[2] Cf. in this respect the also unavoidable Rituals of Suffering, by sociologist Silvia Viana (São Paulo: Boitempo, 2013).

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