July 9th 2014: Quilombo (1984)


Quilobmo Poster

Cast and Crew: Carlos Diegues (Director).

What it’s About: In Colonial Brazil, slaves revolt and join forces with indigenous people and other outcasts to form a new society distinct in structure, religion, and unity from anything that preceded it. Part standing army, part democracy, and probably part cult, Quilombo is a multiethnic nation unto itself–and it’s remarkably resistant to Portuguese incursion. After years of skirmishes, Quilombo’s  political and spiritual leader, Ganga Zumba, attempts to secure a truce with the Portuguese, marking a turning point for this predecessor of Brazilian statehood.

Why Watch it Today: Soccer may be Brazilian’s favorite sport, but capoiera, a Brazilian martial art that teaches acrobatics and deception, is the game that plays in and out of its jungle unconscious. According to legend, capoeira was born at Quilombo, at the intersection of myth and history. Esteemed master filmmaker Carlos Diegues travels to the heart of darkness for whatever artistic truths he can unveil–not for the strict presentation of history, but for a kind of mass reenactment, an experiment in letting a big, largely anonymous cast make myth together. This is an unusual film and not for everybody, lacking emotionally accessible stars and is absent of any and all melodrama and sentimentality. But it’s also a very strong, very uncompromising movie whose images and ideas resonate long after the screen goes dark.

NB: I had trouble finding a trailer; below is an embed of the full film via Youtube.

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