Note from BW of Brazil: These are very exciting times for Afro-Brazilians involved in the arts and entertainment. Although it is true that Brazil’s mainstream media continues to offer limited representation to black artists, independent productions are opening spaces that previously simply weren’t possible. And because of the lack of black input behind the scenes at Brazil’s top television networks, for example, the black characters featured often come across as one-dimensional stereotypes that often don’t permit viewers to see the personalities as full people with a full range of emotions, capacities, thoughts and talents. I mean let’s be real, how often can you see a black woman gyrating half-naked or a black man singing a Carnaval theme before one begins to think this is one of the few roles they can play in society? How many times can you go to an upper-middle-class apartment building and get buzzed in by a black doorman or see mainly black women going up the service elevator of the same building to carry out daily cleaning services before you believe they have no capacity to express thought-provoking opinions on serious, interesting issues?
I remember a few years ago when I would walk to meet a friend weekly for lunch in the Vila Madelena district of São Paulo, I would always pass by a private elementary school where I only saw white parents dropping off or picking up their children from the front entrance. I would also see and greet a black man who would meet the parents and their children, help them out of their car, carry an umbrella over them to the door when it was raining in a manner you would expect of a butler or chauffeur. I never had the chance to stop and talk to the man, know his name or converse with him, but for most, it wouldn’t matter. After all, he is a black man who was there to serve. What could he possibly have to say that could be of any importance, right? Such is the image of black Brazilians, which is why series such as today’s feature Afronta, the AfroTranscendence series and the Afroflix film platform could be groundbreaking for Brazilian society.
Many of the personalities in this series have already been featured on this blog and, if it piques your interest but you don’t understand Portuguese, be sure to head over to the TV Preta YouTube channel and click on the English subtitles prompt.
Series Afronta! discusses Afrofuturism with prominent names on the contemporary black scene
Brazilian series interviews contemporary black personalities – Afronta
By Pedro Borges with Juliana Domingos de Lima
Know who is influencing society and networks, producing content, dictating trends and reflecting current Brazil from another perspective and subjectivity
Produced by Preta Portê Filmes, in co-production with Canal Futura, the documentary series Afronta!, written and directed by filmmaker Juliana Vicente, launches online on the TV Preta (black TV) (www.tvpreta.com.br), on Monday (March 5), plus 13 episodes of its first season. The interviews are broadcast every Monday at 9:45 pm on Canal Futura (www.futuraplay.org/serie/afronta).
Comprising 26 episodes, 15 minutes each, Afronta! presents contemporary black artists and thinkers from personal experiences and reports, which discuss representativeness, belonging, entrepreneurship, ancestry and AFROFUTURISM; reflections that contribute to the understanding of how black Brazilians are creating a network and generating autonomy to change reality today and invent tomorrow.
Filmed in Brazil and the US, Afronta! presents musical names such as singers Anelis Assumpção, Liniker, and Tássia Reis, rapper Karol Conka, Bahian blogger Magá Moura, curator and creative director Diane Lima, filmmakers Yasmin Thayná and André Novais and the Rio-born dancer Ingrid Silva from the Harlem Dance Theater. They are musicians, dancers, actors, art curators, visual artists, DJs, Cool Hunters, poets, filmmakers, cultural producers, communicators and entrepreneurs that expose their trajectories, achievements and concerns in exchanges loaded with complexity, beauty and affection.
Speaking on the inspiration for the creation of the series, director Juliana Vicente considered the recent wave of Afro-Brazilians who are making names for themselves and representing a new generation. “Me and Diana Costa (who participated in the conception of the project) talked a lot about the opportunities that are happening with this generation of black people of prominence, understanding that visibility is a historic problem for black people,” said Vicente.
According to Vicente, when the proposal for Afronta! came about, people frequently asked, “Do these people exist?”, “Where are they that I’ve never seen them?”, “Wow! They are very intelligent!”, comments made above all by white people.
As Brazilian society is not accustomed to seeing narratives told specifically from the black perspective, an audio-visual presentation by, for and featuring black people could be revolutionary in Brazilian media but also serves as meeting point of experiences that connect the African Diaspora.
“The truth is that there is much convergence because, in fact, we have very little knowledge about our past histories, but we share the certainty of a common past, that crosses the African Diaspora. And all of us know the consequences of this. It’s also a common point, from the perspective of the series, that they are strong, autonomous, inspiring people and that have a great power of transformation,” the director noted.
Excerpts from season one episodes
“Anyone who still feeds on all the benefits of such unjust structures must not understand very well why, with such oppression, we find the gaps, we manage to get out. If a person who was tied up in a ship with chain, gagged, managed to escape, will we not be able to? The escape plan is already outlined. We will not go back, we will not regress. The arrow is pointing forward.”
Singer Xenia França, episode 14
“When I was studying at the drama school and did a Tchekov scene, even Shakespeare – I never identified with the characters. The imaginary that was behind those classic texts, those characters, those clothes, was completely foreign. For me, it was not part of my symbolic imagery, it was so clear to me today, I just didn’t know how to say it. (Dramatist) Leda Maria Martins said the other day in a lecture: “As a black Brazilian, we are forced to speak at least three languages.” (…) At school, I tried to conquer the language of the other.”
Actress Grace Passô – episode 12
“When I started to rap, I was 15 years old and the guys who had rap groups were a lot older and very militant as well. There’s this line of the older guys demanding of the newer ones: “have you read Malcolm X? You rap and you haven’t read Malcolm X?” So, as a teenager, I read Muhammad Ali, Steve Biko, Malcolm X. Rap trained me a lot in this thing.”
Rapper Rincon Sapiência, in episode 3
“I was hanging in a segment of contemporary art and theater where I was often the only black. A friend of mine, looking at my drawings, said: ‘Do you only draw blacks?’ ‘No’. I looked at my drawings and did not realize that I only drew black. There is still no study of the philosophy of art that comes from artists like us. That’s what we’re creating now.”
Benjamin Abras, artist
On Aronta! on March 5th, the guest is the actress Dani Ornellas (RJ), who has several roles in film and television, among them Suburbia and Cidade de Deus. In the episode, she recounts her trajectory and questions, in addition to the need for representation on TV, how blacks want and should be represented.
In a simultaneous launch on Canal Futura and TV Preta, based on AFROFUTURISM – aesthetic and philosophical movement that connects past, future and technology -, Afronta! enunciates the creation of NEW NARRATIVES. The series that highlights countless words and expressions also helps to broaden the vocabulary of the viewer in the discussion of Brazilian negritude.
Afronta! a new platform that appears with the proposal of being a channel for diversity, national and international, is available on TV Preta. The channel concentrates all the content and releases it on the web for free access; reference material, research and approximation of the universe of these new Brazilian voices that, above all, influence so many others. It’s a series to be reckoned with.
Every Monday at 9:45 pm on Canal Futura* and on TV Preta
Direction and screenplay: Juliana Vicente
Duration: 15 minutes/Classification: Free/Subtitles in English
* Available on Sky HD 434, Net and Claro TV channels 87, Oi TV 35 and Vivo TV 68.