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... in almost direct opposition to Vera Cruz. With "low budgets, nonprofessional actors, independent production, natural settings, "a camera in hand and an idea in mind" -..." (p.6 CN) the Cinema Nova was born. The first of the movements great directors, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, would succeed in bringing this movement to fruition. In 1955, with the election of Kubitschek, Brazil found itself face to face with a new optimism. With developmentalist nationalism turning its mighty gears and creating such creatures as Brasilia, the early filmmakers of Cinema Novo were young and full of hope. Following Kubitschek was the failure of populism and the monster of inflation, the hopes of these same filmmakers, now a bit older, were dashed.
Beginning primarily with Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Cinema Novo would never truly separate itself from politics. Reacting against the failure of the Vera Cruz studio attempt, the Novo directors relied on the influence of the French New Wave and Italian Neo-realism to school them. The result was a movement in constant dialogue with the political and social realm of a new Brazil. Within this social and political realm exists three periods that influenced the movement of the Novo directors. The first period, from 1960-1964 was one of hope and optimism. Dos Santos was the earliest filmmaker in this period who struck out with a new cinema that was structurally opposed to Hollywood and the studio product.
This general theme would set the tone for the remainder of the Novo movement. Randal Johnson points out that "it is difficult to overestimate the contribution of Nelson Pereira dos Santos to Brazilian Cinema." (p.32 BC) This is true especially for this first period, sparked by his film debut in 1955 for Rio 40 Graus ("Rio 40 Degrees). Initially banned, Rio 40 Graus simply depicts life in Rio de Janeiro, and became an artistic and intellectual "cause celebre" (p.166 CN) when it was revived by Columbia pictures. By following five peanut vendors through the streets of Rio, Rio 40 Graus challenged class structure as well as the chanchada depiction of Rio as a tourist attraction. This commentary combined with the scrounging needed to produce such a film, set the trend for the independent and political nature that Cinema Novo would develop into. The directors of the movement saw "filmmaking as political praxis," and "a contribution to the struggle against neo-colonialism." (p.33 BC) The optimism of these early films is founded in the hopes that by showing the problem on film, the problem would be solved.
But as developmentalist nationalism began to wind down, inflation began to kick up its heels. The somewhat hopeful election of Quadros ended in defeated resignation, and Goulart was ousted by the military in 1964. This coup would set the stage for the second mini-movement within the Cinema Novo: that of failure and confusion. This second phase would last from the coup of 1964 through 1968 and the date of the second coup that would leave the filmmakers even less hopeful. These two coups, "constituted an historical cataclysm that left democratic institutions and a political style--populism--in ruins." (p.34-5 BC) To add to this injury, the filmmakers of the Novo began to loose their audience. Not only was hope drained from their film's contents, but hope in conveying the message to an audience also began to dwindle. One of the great films of hopelessness is Terra em Transe ("Land in Anguish"), directed by Glauber Rocha as a pseudo sequel to his earlier Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol ("Black God, White Devil").
One deals with the "land of the sun", the other, "the land in a trance". Johnson says, "Land in Anguish is a cinematic poem-meditation on the death of populist politics, on the death of populist esthetics, and on death itself." (p.135 CN) Made in 1967, Terra em Transe was on the cusp of the third and final movement of the Cinema Novo. Around this same time, the Novo filmmakers realized that the popularity of their films needed to be recaptured. In a sense, they believed that the importance of what they were saying is only as great as how many people could hear it. In order to reach more people, the directors of Cinema Novo created Difilme to distribute the films and made an effort to produce more films with a more popular subject. The first film of the Novo aimed at a new popular audience and simultaneously, the first in color, was Leon Hirszman's Garota de Ipanema ("The Girl from Ipanema") made in 1967. Being the first attempt at popularity, however, did not make it the first success; that would take Andrade's Macunaima in 1969, considered to be a film of the third phase in Cinema Novo.
Roberto Schwartz describes tropicalism as emerging "from the tension between the superficial "modernization" of the Brazilian economy and its archaic, colonized, and imperialized core." (p.39 BC) The third movement of Cinema Novo, the "cannibal-tropicalist" phase, beginning in 1968 with the coup within the coup, lasts until 1971 when most of the Novo directors would leave the country. In 1968, the new government declared the Fifth Institutional Act, decreeing widespread censorship. This difficulty didn't yet stop the filmmakers; now they were forced to resort to more creative methods of conveying their political and social ideologies. With the military keeping a sharp eye open, the Novo directors retreated deep into allusion and analogy. Figures become intensely allegorical and symbolic, making references to contemporary people and issues more difficult to censor. Joquim Pedro de Andrade's allegorical film Macunaima is the first of the Cinema Novo films to be "formally innovative, politically radical, and immensely popular with the Brazilian public.
(p.25 CN) This film's popularity not only cultivates the public's interest in the new "cannibal-tropicalist" movement but also gives the movement its name. Andrade says, "Every consumer is reducible, in the last analysis, to cannibalism. Their present work relationships, as well as the relationships between people--social, political, and economic--are basically cannibalistic. Those who can 'eat' others through their consumption of products, or even more directly in sexual relationships." Both eroticism and cannibalism are important themes in Macunaima, and become recurring themes for this third phase. Another example from this movement is de Santos' Como Era Gostoso Meu France ("How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman"), which also contributes to the "never-ending Brazilian discussion of cultural colonization..." (p.196 CN) using cannibalization and native Indian tribes. Ironically, in 1971, censorship would become so bad, that the "never-ending" discussion offered by the Cinema Novo would cease. The great directors packed there bags and moved to countries that would accept their political ideas and allow them to continue with filmmaking.
In these last few years of the Cinema Novo, another smaller (by definition) movement began to grow. This was a movement founded on and relying upon its underground nature. Not necessarily based in opposition to or in alliance with the Cinema Novo, the underground films remained during the heavier years of artistic oppression. During the seventies, while Novo was collapsing the Ugrundi (the underground) was still moving along. The objective of the Ugrundi was opposite that of late Cinema Novo. Rather than make films for an audience, like the Novo directors felt they must do, the Underground directors sought topics that would alienate and displease the public. Not only did they retreat to less technical and professional film production, but they dealt with subjects of social depravity. For example, Bressane's Matou a Familia e ou Cinema ("He Killed His Family and Went to the Movies") in 1970, not only deals with outrageous anti-sexual and anti-social issues, but actually goes as far as implicating the film audience as such a group.
The end of the Cinema Novo in 1971 is definitely not the end of Brazilian cinema. The pornochanchada, while not rich in intellectual value (in most cases) became extremely popular. Neither threatening to the incumbent military nor difficult to produce, the pornochanchada found their success unimpeded by censorship and frequented by male audiences in search of sexual stimulation. With titles such as Secretaries... Who do Everything and Those Beautiful, Naked, Marvelous Women, the pornochanchada often depicted moralist themes rather than pay up on the promise of pornography. Later, with the instatement of Roberto Farias as head of Embrafilme (the state film enterprise that replaced the National Cinema Institute in the sixties) in 1974, Brazil would see a new generation of important filmmaking. Eventually, the Novo directors would return to Brazil and continue with their work on Brazilian soil. Now, Brazilian film has reached a new popularity with both Brazilian and global audiences. 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 Doras customers, dies after being run over by a car, and her only child Josue, is given to Ana to rise. 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 films. 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 guarantees 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 Brazilian 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 countrys cultural area is changing to a more stable structure of organization and financial support. The federal legislation that incentives the cultural have 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. As a history, Brazilian Cinema can be used as an interesting tool to examine the social and political development of its country's people. From the Bela Epoca through to the Cinema Novo, the non-industrial film movements follow the struggles of a nation with its more democratically and economically superior neighbor, the United States. On the other hand, perhaps it is more rewarding to examine Brazilian cinema in leu of the social and political history surrounding it.
Each important film mentioned, along with several others, are functional as art and as entertainment separated from their historical worlds. But, as is usually the case, by examining the world within which the films were born, the films themselves become richer and more elaborate texts. Words Count: 4,239. Bibliography: 1. Burton, Julianne. Cinema and Social Change in Latin America.
University of Texas Press, Austin, 1986. 2. Johnson, Randal and Stam, Robert Ed. Brazilian Cinema. University of Texas Press, Austin, 1988. (BC) 3.
Johnson, Randal. Cinema Novo x5. University of Texas Press, Austin, 1984. (CN) 4. Johnson, Randal. The Film Industry in Brazil.
University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 1987. (FIB) 5. Mast, Gerald. A Short History of the Movies 5th Edition. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1992. (SHM) 6. Skidmore, Thomas E.
Politics in Brazil 1930-1964. Oxford University Press, 1967..
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