Black Brazilian Filmmakers and Short Films: A Panoramic view
Written by Heitor Augusto
Film programmer, critic and researcher Heitor Augusto takes our readers to a non-linear journey through 21 short films directed by Black Brazilian filmmakers during the last 50 years.
If one truly wants to grasp the complex ways in which Black authorship has manifested itself in Brazilian cinema, exploring short films is an imperative for a qualified understanding. During the first six months of 2018 I specifically researched this topic, which led me to curating the largest film retrospective centered around the presence of Black directors in Brazilian cinema.
Titled Black Brazilian Cinema: Episodes of a Fragmented History, it was hosted at Belo Horizonte International Film Festival and 25 short films spanning from 1973 to 2018 were screened * . This constellation of films you’re about to navigate through is a direct result of this research, but also bears influences from the almost 14 years I’ve been working with film. It intends to work as very introductory telling of a history to an international audience. This isn’t a definitive, all-encompassing list. One list can’t undo decades of disregard. In order to combat the constant fragmentation of our history as Black people in cinema, we need long-term action
from multiple players, including Film Studies, which in Brazil remain stubbornly inattentive to these films.
Many reasons limit the reach of this constellation. Preservation is a major issue – the short films from Waldir Onofre, Adelia Sampaio, Afranio Vital and many other works are either permanently lost or is very difficult to access them I’ve also prioritized the films intended to be screened in cinemas and film festivals, which explains why Joel Zito Araújo, a key Black voice in the feature film format, isn’t included here. Since this is just an introduction and I wanted to cover different moments in history, I had to keep it as short as possible, which explains the absence of some of my favorite contemporary filmmakers – Lorran Dias, Jessica Queiroz,
Bruno Ribeiro, Asaph Luccas and Glêba do Pessego, the directing team of Perifericu and dozens of others.
Enough said. Buckle your seatbelts and enjoy the journey.
* For more on the retrospective, please refer to the 375-page bilingual catalogue produced by the festival, available at: