Brazil?s Film Industry: Past To Present? Essay, Research Paper
?Brazil?s Film Industry: Past to Present?
Within a year of the Lumiere brother?s ?first experiment? in Paris in 1896, the cinematography machine appeared in Rio de Janeiro. Ten years later, the capital boasted 22 cinema houses and the first Brazilian feature film, Os Estranguladores (?The Stranglers?) by Antonio Leal, had been screened. From then on Brazil?s film industry made continuous progress and, although it has never been large, its output over the years has attracted international attention. In 1930, still the era of the silent movie in Brazil, Mario Peixoto?s film, Limite was made. Limite is a surrealist work dealing with the conflicts raised by the human condition and how life conspires to prevent total fulfillment. It was considered a landmark film in the Brazilian cinema history. the great Soviet director Sergie Eisenstein called the film ?an extremely beautiful film which one should submit oneself to right from the very first moments, as to the agonizing chords of a synthetic and pure language of cinema ( Johnson et al. 309).
In 1993 Cinedia produced Alo, Alo, Carnival (?The Voice of the Carnival?), the first film with Carmen Miranda. This film ushered in the ?chanchada? which dominated Brazilian cinema for many years. While the chanchada remained popular for several decades, with hundreds of examples, it slowly declined into vulgarity, and became the ?pornochanchada? by the 1970?s. The chanchada, though popular, was not popular enough to beat out the foreign films (now dubbed in Portuguese), still dominating Brazilian markets. It also left the giant taste of Brazil?s tropical stereotypes in the mouths of the world: ?the image of Brazil, for many Brazilians, is a bewildering potpourri of piranha infested waters, samba and romance, carnival and coffee, Black Orpheus and Carmen Miranda (Johnson et al. 351).
By the end of the 1940?s Brazilian film making was becoming an industry. The Vera Cruz Film Company was created in San Paolo with the goal of producing films of international quality. It hired technicians from abroad and brought back from Europe, Alberto Cavalcanti, a Brazilian filmmaker with an international reputation to head the company. Vera Cruz produced some important films before it closed in 1954, among them the epic O Cangaceiro, which one two awards at the 1953 Cannes film festival, including ?Best Adventure Film.? O Cangaceiro is one of the most famous films in the history of Brazilian cinema and one of the few to have successfully reached a foreign public (Johnson et al. 277).
In the 1950?s, Brazilian cinema radically changed the way it made films. In his 1955 film, Rio 40 Graus (?Rio 40 Degrees?), director Nelson Pareira dos Santos employed the filmaking techniques of Italian non realism by using ordinary people as his actors and by going into the streets to shoot his low budget film. He would become one of the most important Brazilian filmmakers of all time, and it is he who set the stage for the Brazilian ?cinema novo? (an idea in mind and a camera in the hands) movement (Johnson, Cinema Novo 166). By 1962 ?cinema novo? had established a new concept in Brazilian filmaking. The ?cinema novo? film?s dealt with themes related to acute national problems, from conflicts in rural areas to human problems in the large cities, as well as film versions of important Brazilian novels. At the end of the 1960?s, the Tropicalist movement had taken hold of the art scenes in Brazil which meant that cinema came under its spell. It emphasized the need to transform all foreign influences into a national product. The most representative film of this movement was Macunaima, by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade. It was a metaphorical analysis of the Brazilian character as shown in the story of a native Indian who leaves the Amazon jungle and goes to the big city.
Working at the same time as the Tropicalists were the ?cinema marginal? movement. This was another group of directors that emerged in San Paolo and Rio de Janeiro who also made low cost films. The group produced film?s with theme?s that referred to a marginal society. Their films were considered ?difficult?. In 1969 the government film agency, Embrafilme was created. They were responsible for the co-production, financing, and distribution of a large percentage of films in the 1970?s and 1980?s. Embrafilme added a commercial dimension to the film industry and made it possible for it to move on to more ambitious projects. In the 1980?s movies were not well attended. This was due in part to the popularity of the television. Many theaters closed their doors, especially in the interior of the country. Never the less, some important films were made. Many of these films concerned political issues. Today the contemporary Brazilian films are being shown on television and in movie theaters all over the world.
The Brazillian culture at the moment is a result of a historical process where there was a convergence of three distinct populations: the Indian population that was situated in the land before the Portuguese arrived in 1500, the Africans who were brought by the slave owners, and lastly the immigrants that came to Brazil in the beginning of the 19th century. Today, Brazil is more conscious of the richness that these three different cultures bring to the film industry. a perfect example of this is the film O Quatrilho. O Quatrilho, made in 1996, was one of the five nominees for the Best Movie in a Foreign Language at the 1996 Academy Awards. The film takes us into the world of a small colony of Italian immigrants in the south of Brazil in 1910.
The young and serious Angelo is wed to the beautiful and vibrant Teresa, but he pays no attention to her at all. He is first preoccupied with making ends meet, and then on on his fortune, but never on his wife. Soon another couple, Pierina and Massimo, arrive at the village. Pierina, who is Theresa?s cousin, is homely but hard working, while Massimo is more worldly and does not disguise the fact he finds Theresa attractive. In time the two couples have children and find themselves sharing the same property. The daily routine of working together on the land is arduous. Angelo busies himself with his business and proves successful at it, while at the same time Massimo and Theresa grow closer. After their first romantic encounter together, they decide to abandon their respective marriages and run off to elope together. Angelo and Pierina, betrayed by their spouses, continue to live together under the same roof, despite church pressure that they separate. Little by little Angelo and Pierina grow closer and fall in love. The story of O Quatrilho is a result of Brazil?s rich ethnicity and cultural diversity
With a sudden change of Brazillian cultural laws in the last 2 years, the Brazillian ?audio-visual? area?s such as film, television, and radio have flourished. The national production of films were stagnant from the 1990 – 1992 due to the radical cuts in government fiscal and artistic incentives made at the time of the Collor administration. By 1993 the demand for more ?audio-visual? products prompted the law to incentive ?audio-visuals?. Once created and passed by the senate, 2 films were produced. In 1994, 5 films were produced, in 1995, 17 were produced, and in 1996, 22 films were made. By 1997, 30 films were produced. This increase gives us the conclusion that with the establishment of the new law, there was a growth of national films.
A great example of the growth of national films is Centro do Brazil (?Central Station?), won the Gold Bear at the International Film Festival in Berlin, and the prize for Best Script at the Sundance Festival. In this film Dora works in the ?Centro do Brazil? writing letters for illiterates who desire to correspond with their distant relatives. Ana, one of Dora?s customers, dies after being run over by a car, and her only child Josue, is given to Ana to raise. Josue dreams about finding his father, who disappeared in the northeast. In the end Dora helps Josue to write letters to help find his father. Centro do Brazil was shown in Brazilian, European, and American theaters.
The actual flourishing of the film industry is so intense that one can even measure it by the fact that in the beginning of the decade the number of spectators for the Brazilian films was insignificant, summoning up to about 20,000 per year. Gradually, as the films have increased so have the spectators. In 1997 one can see how the numbers have jumped to 2 million. Another auspicious fact is the regional diversification of productions, allowing the elimination of the battles between Rio de Janeiro and San Paolo. Although the market is still dominated by foreign films, Brazil has begun to export their film?s. In 1997 Brazil imported 680 million dollars against the 38 million that was exported.
The Federal Constitution clearly established in the 2 articles (215, and 216) states that the competency of the state guarantee?s the cultural rights. Also access to the cultural source, value and incentivation of the cultural productions and preservations of national heritage. Especially the ones from the various ethnic groups and trends that encompass the Brazillian society. So the three fundamental dimensions of the cultural phenomenon (creation, diffusion, and preservation) are contemplated in the constitutional text. This places them under the public responsibilities in collaboration with its society.
The country?s cultural area is changing to a more stable structure of organization and financial support. The federal legislation that incentives the cultural has 2 powerful laws. Law 8.313/91, which is the federal law to stimulate the culture, and law 8685/93, which is an audio-visual law. With these two laws, the federal government incentives and supports the firms to contribute with a percentage of the taxes to be used in the support of the arts. As a result of these laws, we have the ?Revival of the Brazilian Movie?, with an increased income of 80 million ?reais? (Brazilian currency) in 1997. In 1997 the Ministry for Culture gave away 40 awards for film shorts, 15 for film scripts, and 15 for development of audio-visual projects. From 1998 to the present the Ministry for Culture has centered ts efforts to increase the market for Brazilian productions of audio-visual content.
Johnson, Randal, and Robert Stam, eds. Brazilian Cinema. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1988.
Johnson, Randal. Cinema Novo. 5th ed. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984.
Johnson, Randal. The Film Industry in Brazil. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997.
Martin, Michael, ed. New Latin American Cinema. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997.