Film supports Quilombolas emancipation in Brazil

May 2008 -

A Brazilian social worker, Jeide Nogueira, has been working in Sambaquim and Riachão do Sambaquin, two small Quilombolas communities, for ten years. Quilombolas are the descendents of runaway slaves. She decided to work in these communities because the population is extremely poor and suffers from discrimination, even by Brazilian standards. "Until then, they had an extremely negative self-image. This has changed in the past two years, thanks to the film Ate a vista alcança."

The idea of making the documentary, shown at the initiative of Caramundo during the Latin American Film Festival (LAFF) in Utrecht, was born when Nogueira discovered that almost no one in the community had ever seen the sea, and that they would love to do so. She organised a game of Bingo to collect money to rent a bus so that the entire community could go see the sea, 150 km away.

Peres Calheiros had also worked with this community as photographer for a group of anthropologist researchers. When he heard about the plans, he decided to make a film about the project. The result is a combination of digital film and black-and-white photographs. The effect is strong: the moving images give information about the community and its background, while the powerful photographs emphasise the historical value of the trip. According to Calheiros, the film supports the Quilombolas in their struggle for recognition of their heritage. "The film portrays people with a dream. The audience can identify with them, because everyone has dreams." As a sequel to his documentary, Peres Calheiros organised an auto-audiovisual project Tankalé, in which people film their own community.

Seu Joãzinho, one of the people in the film, is radiant as he talks about the film festival of Pernambuco, where television cameras recorded three thousand people applauding the film. "We were represented for the first time." Peres Calheiros: "Mass media in Brazil consistently portray Quilombolas as gangs who steal land from large landowners, but in truth it is more the other way around."

LAFF receives support from among others Hivos NCDO Culture Fund, the Film Fund and the VSB Fund.