BRAZILIAN DOCUMENTARY FILM: A CONVERSATION WITH JOÃO MOREIRA SALLES

Thursday April 14th
12:30-2pm
106 Dwinelle Hall

João Moreria Salles will deliver a lecture on his award winning documentary Santiago (2007), which seemingly focuses on the life of his family’s butler, Santiago.  In 1992 Moreira Salleshad shot nine hours of footage with his main character, but left the project unfinished on the cutting room table.  He returned to the footage 13 years later, by then with two other documentary films made, and another half dozen produced.  The film narrates its own initial failure, its aborted first attempt, and along the way also exposes the ethical difficulty at the heart of all documentary film practices, especially those marked by a radical difference between the director and the subject of the documentary.  In the case of Moreira Salles’ film, the distance is a class distance, and the film thus places class structures in Brazil at the center of an otherwise poetic documentary about a flamboyant character.  This is what mobilized Brazilian critics and public alike: the laying out of a class structure in Brazil that inevitably goes back to its long history of slavery.   During his lecture Moreira Salles will address the role of documentary cinema in questions of citizenship in Brazil, especially during the post 2003 Workers Party government (first under the presidency of Lula and now under Dilma).  He will draw both on his film Santiago as well on his role as the key producer of documentary cinema in Brazil since the creation of his production company in 1999.

João Moreira Salles is one of Brazil’s leading documentary filmmakers. His News From a Personal War (1999), Nelson Freire (2003) and Santiago (2007) have won numerous awards both in Brazil and abroad and are considered key films to have revitalized Brazilian cinema in the past decade.  His 2004 documentary on presidential candidate Lula, Entreatos was one of the most debated films in Brazil in the last 2 decades. He has worked as a produced since 1999 when he and his brother, Walter Salles, also a filmmaker, founded Videofilmes, now the most important production company of documentary films in Brazil.  He is also the Chief editor of Revista Piauí, which since its first issue in October 2006, has become the leading Brazilian cultural and political magazine.

This event is co-sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities, the Department of Spanish & Portuguese and the Department of Film & Media