Behind the cameras: black directors emerge on Brazilian audiovisual scene – With recent coup, filmmakers fear restriction of black production funding


The Note from BW of Brazil: The idea of a ‘Cinema Negro’ or Black Cinema emerging in Brazil has been an idea that has been gaining support as well as talented producers and directors particularly over the past few years. Similar to the concept of black theater, Afro-Brazilians know that if they want to see themselves and their stories being told, they will have to take matters into their own hands and make it happen. There is clearly no shortage of talent with a number of directors, actors and actresses who have made a name for themselves both in front of and behind the cameras. But just as these creative minds were starting to make some noise with their own productions, we saw a recent political coup d’etat that threatens to undermine the small gains they’ve managed over the past decade. No one is sure what’s to come with a new government that seems bent on taking back all of the gains made over the past decade plus. We can only wait and see what will happen, but it would be shame if this progress suddenly came to halt as black voices in Brazil’s ultra-white media have been silenced for far too long. 

Behind the cameras: black direction emerges in the Brazilian audiovisual scene

After the coup against democracy, directors fear restriction of affirmative policies for black productions

By Juliana Gonçalves

Scene from short film ‘Lápis de Cor’, by Larrisa Fulana de Tal

Cinema, the main audiovisual tool to amplify ideas, for years, didn’t reflect the plurality of voices of society, especially the 53% of black men and women that make up the country’s population. The main point was the difficulty of access to courses related to film production.

Scene from the film ‘Aquém das Nuvens’

The promotion of affirmative action policies and specific edicts in recent years built a new scenario and the black population had access (even being incipient) to historically elitist universities, as is the case of film schools.

Filmmaker Larrisa Fulana de Tal

Discussions about vida negra (black life) in Brazil have gained a strong ally in audiovisual production in contrast to television, which insists on stigmatizing the image of black men and women. “I chose film school because I didn’t see myself on TV, I didn’t see black demands much less quilombo issues on the small screen,” says Fábio Martins, filmmaker, born and raised in Quilombo do Campinho, located in Paraty, Rio de Janeiro.

‘Cinzas’: A film about the common everyday. Bahian film will be released in International Festival in Brasília

The filmmaker was trained through a partnership of the Ministry of Culture with the Darcy Ribeiro School of Cinema. Soon he produced a documentary about his community (see below). Recently, Fábio was awarded a prize from the National Arts Foundation (Funarte) and will produce the short film Paraty: terra de preto (black land). “We have difficulty accessing the resources to carry out productions from a racial perspective and now with the golpe (coup), affirmative (action) policies will probably decrease and the money going back into the hands of those who always got everything,” critiques Martins.

Scene from ‘Quilombo do Campinho – Conectado!’

The Bahian filmmaker Larissa Fulana de Tal (meaning ‘so and so’, a last name chosen by her, believing that anyone can dream and occupy spaces) has the same perception. “We know that edicts with a racial perspective are part of a government policy, not state, as such they can just disappear,” she says.

With her collective Tela Preta (Black Screen), born at the University of Bahian Recôncavo, Larissa directed three short films Lápis de Cor (colored pencil), Não somos mais um (we’re not another one) and Cinzas (ashes), the latest that chronicles a day in the life of the black youth Toni. All of them were realized within affirmative processes.

Black women

Sidney Santiago, actor and creator of Cia. Os Crespos, has already participated in about 10 feature films and throughout his career has been directed only once by a black woman filmmaker Lilian Solá Santiago in Grafite (graffiti), a short film from 2006 on the killings in May of that year (1). “There is a lack of alternatives so that we can have more black filmmakers with the proposal of a more racially assertive film,” says Santiago, who believes that cinema is still “a place of privilege.”


For filmmaker Renata Martins, there is a female leading role emerging intensively in recent years. “They are black women who have been presenting narratives from their places of speech,” he says. Renata is the director of the acclaimed Aquém das Nuvens and with a collective of about 10 women directs the webseries Empoderadas (empowered), which highlights the history of black women of different areas.

She believes that there is still no channel of direct investment support to black productions, but that this doesn’t bar the productions. “While money doesn’t come, we find ways to produce because the discourse is greater than the money,” he says. As an alternative, she produces her own projects and then, with the material ready, starts fundraising. “It is important to adequately pay the people involved,” she concludes.

Source: Brasil de Fato


  1. The attacks of the criminal faction PCC (Primeiro Comando da Capital or First Command of the Capital) on agents of public security in São Paulo and the retaliation by police, which led to chaos in the largest city in Latin America, completed ten years in May. In all, from May 12th to 26th of 2006, there were 564 people killed in the state by firearm. It all started when, on May 11th, SAP (Secretaria de Administração Penitenciária or Department of Corrections) decided to transfer 765 inmates to the 2 de Presidente Venceslau penitentiary, maximum security, after wiretaps revealed that criminal organizations were planning uprisings for Dia das Mães (Mother’s Day), that would happen on the 14th.

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.