dry bush on fire

Nicolau Monro, Animals running through fire, 1970


Comment about the movie directed by Adirley Queirós and Joana Pimenta

The film co-directed by Adirley Queirós and Joana Pimenta, shown in the midst of a retrospective organized by Instituto Moreira Salles, is an opportunity to see and think about another Brazil. I watched the film at the São Paulo city screening and participated in the debate with the directors after screening. What a wonderful conversation: I had the impression of watching another film (as excellent as the “first”), whose process was lived and thought about passionately, almost as an end in itself – a subversive and democratic cinema, which breaks the hierarchy between conception and execution, in which everyone who works is recognized and, obviously, remunerated.

The territory in which it takes place dry bush on fire is Sun Rising, and Sun Rising is a world. A world that has its own rules, with its imaginaries and codes, a portion of red cerrado, dusty under the sun, soaked under the rain. Expelled from Brasilia at its dawn, they also wanted to expel him from the “Brazil” grammar, to place him outside time and space. A place that gradually became unreal because the lens under which reality fits is very narrow. Part of Ceilândia, satellite of the capital: territory that does not actually revolve around the governmental center, because it has its own gravitational force. The film by Adirley Queirós and Joana Pimenta makes a world emerge through the cracks.

Understanding reality as a simple documentary and fiction as pure invention misses the main point: we all represent ourselves based on criteria of what we assume to be real and fictional. We represent ourselves to ourselves, including. We narrate our lives all the time to give meaning to what we do and feel, and our narrative choices are not just subjective, they are collective and shared.

dry bush on fire it is situated between traditional ways of seeing and understanding the periphery, the peripheral bodies, their sociability and temporality. The film tells the story (tells or creates? shows or invents?) of three women who find oil in Sol Nascente, extract it and sell the refined gasoline to the neighborhood motoboys. Chitara (Joana D'Arc Furtado), Léa (Léa Alves) and Andréia (Andréia Vieira) form a gang of gas stations acting in self-government, defending their business with the violence required by those who want to guarantee and expand their domain. The three protagonists, although working together, have different traits: Chitara is the manager; Andréia, evangelical, is a leader of the PPP (Prisoned People's Party) and is in an election campaign; Léa recently got out of jail and works as a lookout for the business.

Léa and Andréia are sisters, and it is mainly through them that memory is exercised in the film. There are long scenes of conversations between the two, ranging from sharing family stories about their childhood and their common father; concerning their children and their parents; and, on Lea's part, the confiding of love affairs. They tell their story with the time required for it, with what it has tragic (the Brazilian periphery) and epic (the grandiose actions in any fight), without didacticism.

Although the trio of characters overflows with eroticism, it is Léa who is more resourceful in demonstrating her sexuality. The reports about his three girlfriends in jail, and about the desire, now free, to open a whorehouse, abound with autonomy. The camera celebrates the peripheral body without objectifying it, without transforming it into an irrational demon indicating the doom of the country (right view), or an angelic deity saving the nation (view from an elitist left). Léa slowly takes her place among these representations, a place as complex and contradictory as any other. Venus lesbian, smoker, with indigenous hair, armed.

Léa embodies a game between inside and outside that is an important issue in the film. Fresh out of jail, where she was locked up for eight years, she returns to Sol Nascente, inside Ceilândia and outside Brasília. The presence of the State takes the form of capture, with the daily risk of imprisonment, in a presence-absence of people, who today may be there and tomorrow may not be. In the scene in which Léa goes to visit her brother Cucão, in a remote and somewhat rural region, he tells her, in a beautiful shot in front of his house, that the Federal Government bought that neighboring land for the construction of (another) prison. The State has been approaching, circling Sol Nascente, whose amplitude contrasts with the prediction of state closure.

Institutional Brazil also surrounds Sol Nascente in the form of a mambembe caveirão, manned by a trio of cowardly protected police officers and/or militiamen and repeaters of the Bolsonarist fascist liturgy, illustrated by a scene of middle-class and white demonstrators, wearing the Brazilian national team shirt , in Praça dos Três Poderes, chanting the litany of the extreme right. There is a cat-and-mouse game between the police and the women that creates an apprehensive atmosphere in the film, in a pulsating tension.

The struggle of gas stations is and is not against this Bolsonarist reality – or, more generally, against this Brazilian situation. Because from the periphery, they fight against a project of power that wants to annihilate their class, that wants the usual extermination of the poor. On the other hand, let's say that their struggle is older, it is a struggle on the margins, expelled from projects on both the right and the left, expelled from the grammar of Brazil. At a certain point in the film, Léa is arrested, and her account of imprisonment is constructed with material from the police investigation, composing a storyboard documentary and at the same time ironic, because it mimics the crime narratives of television series. The apex represented by Léa's arrest, however, does not end the film, and has the power to suggest another reality for the fictional realism about the poor: the story does not end with the reiteration of the poor black prisoner.

dry bush on fire promotes an imagetic liberation from the imprisonment represented by consecrated and official codes, which would classify Sol Nascente as “grotão” or “deep Brazil”, always operating in the vision of the other as exotic – idealized or hated, it doesn’t matter. Two procedures stand out in this imagery legitimation process: slowness and sound. There are very long scenes with little movement, the length of which indicates a dilation of time that is an invitation for us to inhabit “there”, or rather, it is about the construction of this place (this “there”) by insisting on presenting it, disputing the place. meaning that is traditionally attributed to it, giving it the right to appear as it wishes. Andréia's long scene in the evangelical church, as long as it lasts, frays both the simplism through which the left sees evangelicals, and its usual appropriation by the right.

Second, the sound. The film is noisy: machines, motorcycles, cars, fireworks, all at high volume. The noise reminds me of another movie, Block, by Victoria Álvares and Quentin Delaroche (2019), perhaps the most interesting production among those that treated Brazil warmly after the 2016 coup. being elected, brings together all the elements that made up the complex and indignant amalgam of the right: at that post in Seropédica people shouted Temer Out, prayed in improvised evangelical services, received donations from the surrounding population, asked for military intervention , all surrounded by an almost deafening noise from the exhausts of the trucks and engines of the vehicles that were driving on the road.

That gas station was a huge noise for most intellectuals and political analysts – and yet, it was Brazil that would soon take office. the noise of dry bush on fire it is only noise for those who believe that speaking in a low voice is a sign of civility and that restraint of the body is a sign of rationality. Gas stations, for their part, calmly coexist with loud sounds and produce them non-stop, at the dawn of this government self-managed by women from Sol Nascente.

The final motociata, led by women, is an uprising with a taste for revenge – like what we felt in Bacurau, by Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonça Filho (2019). The sound is, once again, very loud, drawing attention to itself as app workers do in their brakes – which gives another meaning to the motorcycles, imagetically kidnapped by Bolsonaro and Bolsonaristas, who removed from them all popular and fighting character. for rights. dry bush on fire reveals that Bolsonaristas are in another reality, a reality parallel to Sol Nascente, not because they are delirious, but precisely because they share the alienation of Brasília (an official Brazil) in relation to peripheral Brazil.

This innovative position of the film shifts the boundaries that traditionally define what is real and what is fiction when it comes to the representation of poor Brazilian people (simply the majority of Brazil), giving them the right to fictionalize themselves according to their own terms and tell your own story.

* Julius Canhada it's dPhD in philosophy from USP. Book author Discourse and history: philosophy in Brazil in the XNUMXth century (Loyola).


dry bush on fire
Brazil, 2023, 153 minutes.
Directed by: Adirley Queirós and Joana Pimenta.
Cast: Joana Darc Furtado, Léa Alves Da Silva, Andreia Vieira, Débora Alencar, Gleide Firmino, Mara Alves.

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