Cinema Negro, Black Cinema, will be the highlight of the twentieth edition of FESTCURTASBH film festival in Belo Horizonte
By Marques Travae
The rise and need for a Cinema Negro, Black Cinema, has been a long-discussed theme on the black agenda. Brazil’s film industry continues to be a very hard nut to crack for black actors, actresses and directors. Numerous studies have pointed out the lack of black actors and actresses in leading roles of Brazilian film productions. And if the road to opportunity and exposure is difficult for the performers in front of the camera, you can just imagine the difficulty of black filmmakers and those who make the film happen behind the cameras.
But even with the uphill struggle, black Brazilian Cinema DOES exist and there have been a number of important film festivals in which the works of these artists are highlighted. The Encontro de Cinema Negro Zózimo Bulbul – Brasil, África e Caribe, which has already held 10 editions, perhaps being the most prominent. In Belo Horizonte, the capital city of the state of Minas Gerais, 20th edition of the FESTCURTASBH (Festival Internacional de Curtas de Belo Horizonte – Belo Horizonte International Short Film Festival) is scheduled to begin on August 10th and run through August 19th, with works of Cinema Negro being a special showcase in year’s edition.
With 138 films coming from 70 countries and 12 Brazilian states, Cinema Negro will have three exhibitions related to the theme while the public will also be treated to youth and children-oriented works as well as animated features, all competing for a Troféu Capavara (Capivara Award).
Coordinator of the program and curator of the show, Ana Siqueira, affirms that the objective of this year’s edition is to focus and give exposure to productions of an artistic and cultural nature produced by Brazil’s black population, a segment that Brazil’s media has always ignored and left in a state of invisibility.
“We seek to contribute to people thinking about how these works are performed aesthetically and politically, bringing a series of implications to our look, our way of perceiving the movies, in addition to the necessary questions about how the history of cinema is constructed, never in a neutral way, always crossed by the various political and social processes in progress,” said Siqueira, in explaining the public’s connection audio-visual productions by black filmmakers.
About the shows
The first showing, “Cinema Negro – Capítulos de uma História Fragmentada” (Black Cinema: chapters of a fragmented history), with a focus on Brazilian production, will be curated by the cinema critic and researcher Heitor Augusto, with the selection divided in five programs, Família (Family), Genocídio (Genocide), Raízes (Roots), Diáspora (Diaspora) and Corpo (body), will bring together 25 short films produced between 1973 and 2018, providing an outline of the origins and development of Cinema Negro in Brazil highlighting various aspects of the everyday experiences of black Brazilians.
The Família section presents the 2010 short film Aquém das Nuvens, a film about a black man and his black wife that still love each other after many years together.
The portion entitled Genocídio, for the curator, is the most painful section as it presents films dealing with the harsh reality of what Afro-Brazilians define as the “genocide of black youth.” Two such films are Jonas, Só Mais Um (Jonas, just another one), about the murder of micro-business owner Jonas Eduardo Santos de Souza, directed by Jeferson De and Dona Sônia Pediu uma Arma a Seu Vizinho Alcides (2014) based on a mother’s reaction to the brutal murder of her child.
The Raízes section brings diverse visions of cultura negra brasileira (black Brazilian culture) approaching the world of Brazil’s most famous cultural representation, the samba. The films produced between 1981 and 2016 range from the resistance of mulheres negras (black women) in a Bahian quilombo to the preparation of an aspiring samba school rainha da bateria (queen of the drumbeat).
Diáspora, as the title suggests, presents short films that seek dialogue with the Motherland through memories of the past and modern-day actors. Films feature a poetic connection between Brazil and a Benin sculptor, a documentary filmed in Cuba featuring the everyday lives of a black family and another presenting black women in a Candomblé terreiro.
The Corpo section brings together a collection of shorts in which the corpo negro (black body) is presented as a space of pain, invention and struggle. With films produced between 1973 and 2018 touch on the near 400 year history of blacks in Brazil, encounters of black women as instances of cure, the aesthetic legend of the black body and the creative potential of black women in modern day Brazil.
The Akosua Adoma Owusu Showing brings nine films by the Ghanaian-American filmmaker whose works on black culture have been widely circulated in film festivals, museums, galleries and universities since 2005. The filmmaker will also be present during and after the showing of his films to discuss his works.
Another noteworthy feature of the festival will be the tribute the Senegalese filmmaker Safi Faye, who in 1975 became the first black sub-Saharan African woman to direct a feature film with Kaddu Beykat (Letter from my Village). Having produced several films since, she is considered one sub-Saharan Africa’s most prominent film directors. Curator and researcher Janaína Oliveira, founder of FICINE will provide commentary on Faye’s works. FICINE (Fórum Itinerante de Cinema Negro or Black Film Itinerant Forum) is a space for training and reflection on the world of cinema, photography and audiovisual production that have black men and women as filmmakers and black cultures and experiences as the main theme.
The 20th FESTCURTASBH will take place between August 10 and 19, at the Palácio das Artes (Avenida Afonso Pena, 1537, downtown, Belo Horizonte – MG).