Ceri Richards, The Crooked Rose, 1965


Comments on cinema and literature produced in the Northeast

At the beginning of this year, Cinemateca Brasileira held the cycle Nordestern – Brazilian style bang, with fiction films, documentaries, features and short films, accompanied by two round tables.

Some of the masterpieces of art were exhibited, such as The dragon of evil against the Holy Warrior (but not God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun), by Glauber Rocha. Nor were rarities like Lamp, the only existing visual document about the great leader of the cangaço, 11 precious minutes filmed by Benjamin Abraão, today deposited at the Instituto Joaquim Nabuco, in Recife.

There was no lack of the father of all, of perennial influence, the famous the cangaceiro, de Lima Barreto, for greater glory awarded at Cannes. Rosemberg Cariry and Wolney de Oliveira, two masters of the genre, were present with, respectively, Corisco and Dada e The last cangaceiros. Among the historic ones, there were still cangaço memory, by Paulo Gil Soares, who pioneered encrusted those 11 minutes and, in a more modern style, fragrant dance, humorous reading that came to us from Pernambuco. To crown it all, a very recent one: Sertania, the testament of a great specialist, Geraldo Sarno. He directed, among many others, a classic, the short Viramundo, interviewing northeastern migrants in São Paulo.

And, with this excellent selection criterion, the exhibition included the highly awarded Bacurau. The only absence to regret is that of the most perfect adaptation of Guimarães Rosa ever seen, the film by Roberto Santos The time and turn of Augusto Matraga. Maybe also those of Dried lives e The rifles.

It was a joy to see how the Cinemateca Brasileira managed to survive – just barely, through a flood and a fire – the annihilating rage of the previous government. The institution, as its name indicates, is federal in scope, and has not escaped sinister designs, as so many others have not. Among them the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education, the National Museum and some other museums, Casa de Rui Barbosa, Funarte, Palmares Foundation, Capes, Cnpq, Funai, Ibama, Inpe, universities federal... It doesn't hurt to remember that USP, Unicamp, Unesp, Fapesp and the Ipiranga Museum were only saved because they were state and not federal.

Now, Cinemateca emphasizes the relevance of northeastrn, an integral part of the imagination of the sertão, and not only in the movies.

There are no books more important than the sertões by Euclides da Cunha, Grande Sertão: paths by Guimaraes Rosa, Dried lives by Graciliano Ramos and the poetry of João Cabral de Melo Neto (Death and life Severina, education by stone etc.).

There is no popular singer more important than Luiz Gonzaga, bard from the sertão, who dedicated his life and his art to the theme, identifying himself with a new musical genre – the baião – and promoting the xaxado dance. And more sounds from the caatinga, like the aboio and the special diction of the blind man who sings to the rhythm of the ganzá, which he integrates into his compositions.

But there is a historical basis for this entire symbolic complex. It is the great Northeastern migration to the South, where the Northeasterners came to work, resulting in the industrialization of São Paulo and the verticalization of the city.

The exodus takes off in the 1930s, when, according to the IBGE Census, the demographic panorama undergoes a double inflection towards urbanization, with migration from the countryside to the cities (in the whole country) and from the North to the the South.

It never hurts to remember that it brought unexpected consequences. Such concentration of the proletariat led to the creation of strong unions, which ended up creating a party and taking one of their own, in an unprecedented way in Brazil and in the world, to the Presidency of the Republic.

It is in this same decade that the “Romance of 1930” appears, of which the aforementioned Graciliano Ramos, José Lins do Rego, Rachel de Queiroz, Jorge Amado and others are exponents. It emerges with such vigor that it becomes hegemonic for half a century, the work of Northeasterners who speak of the Northeast and of Northeasterners. New in the Brazilian panorama is the tonic in the social denunciation: inequalities, hunger, drought, racism and so on.

As no one ignores, the consequences of the great migration are far from being exhausted.

*Walnice Nogueira Galvão is Professor Emeritus at FFLCH at USP. She is the author, among other books, of Reading and rereading (Sesc\Ouro over Blue).

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