ghost portraits

Frame from the documentary Retratos Fantasmas


Commentary on Kleber Mendonça Filho's documentary

Watch ghost portraits by Kleber Mendonça Filho is to come across our old ghosts, of the old cinemas and the way of occupying the city centers in which I lived, and how from these memories emerge my ghosts, and certainly, of all those who lived the life of the city centers' cinemas of our cities. Sometimes I think that my first religion was cinema, then came Catholicism, football and later Trotskyism. Once reading Trotsky, at one point he describes that in socialism cinema would play the role of religion, in sociability and enchantment, and we would have a new civil religion, like so many that we profess throughout our lives.

However, cinemas as this meeting space on city streets have been declining since the end of the last century. I grew up next to Cine Roxy (formerly Cine Imperial), which was part of my grandfather's family business, in Anápolis, and there my first experiences with red curtains and projection in the dark room took place. To a much lesser extent I also attended Santana and Santa Maria.

But at Roxy I met and became close to Mazzaropi, I cried (I think for the first time in the cinema) when Lupa died in The Trapalhão in King Solomon's Mines, and I was ecstatic when my father negotiated with the ticket agent for me to come in after the start of the session to see Monkey's Planet (censorship prevented us). The sounds of the cinema invaded and were part of everyday life at my grandmother's house, who lived next door. I remember how sad she was at the sounds of long motorcycle chases in Black Rain from 1990, which reminded her of my recently deceased uncle, who was a motorcyclist.

As remarkable as Roxy's sessions, my father took me to watch the Empire Strikes Back at the Casablanca cinema in Goiânia, and feel the atavistic fear of encountering Darth Vader for the first time. Then Roxy reprized the Star Wars (at the time we just called it that), perhaps Jedaism and strength became a separate religion. When, many years later, I took my son to the cinema for the first time, we saw Phantom Menace, I felt that a cycle of my life had been completed.

When we moved to Porto Velho I started attending other temples. The old and imposing Cine Resky, the kung-fu films at Cine Brasil, and the fate of our afternoon newspapers, which required us to rush out of the playground in time to catch the 16 pm matinees at Lacerda, where I watched Ben-hur, Superman, Gandhi, Mad Max, Betty Blue, and hundreds of films, including the first porn.

Returning to Goiânia in the 1990s, most of the cinemas were still on the streets of the center, and there was still one in Campinas (an old neighborhood), this year the Bougainville theaters would be opened, the second shopping mall with cinemas in the city, and little by little we went seeing downtown cinemas close, turning into churches and other businesses, and our cities with less lively and gray centers. And so the Casablanca, the Astor, the Capri and so many others disappeared.

Mendonça Filho's Film made me vividly remember the long conversations with the designer of Cine Cultura, which still exists (but it is not exactly a street cinema), who once told me that Cinema Paradiso it was the story of his life. There is no way to watch his film and the stories shown there without remembering the Italian film.

And with the end of street cinemas, we continue to destroy the centers of our cities, accepting pressure from capital, which does not accept the idea of ​​preserving heritage, which becomes increasingly arboricidal, which increasingly makes a city hostile to pedestrians and cyclists. That does not have the human as its center.

Those who take the time to watch Mendonça Filho's film will be confronted with their respective ghosts. And as he says in the film, the best documentaries are fiction films and dystopias are the best portrait of becoming. And everything was left to thinking about the future of our beloved cities, and their cinemas (and our much-attacked culture).

The Ritz cinema on 8th Street still survives, along with bars frequented by young people, but for how long?

*Antonio Henriques Lemos Leite Filho is a professor of the law course at the Goiás city campus of the Federal University of Goiás (UFG).


ghost portraits
Brazil, documentary, 2023, 93 minutes
Direction and script: Kleber Mendonça Filho
Editing: Matheus Farias
Director of photography: Pedro Sotero

the earth is round exists thanks to our readers and supporters.
Help us keep this idea going.

See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table