Note from BW of Brazil: Yet another intriguing, independent project here. The invisibility of Afro-Brazilian protagonists, actors/actresses and themes in Brazil’s mainstream media has long been an issue within activist circles. Invisibility often leads to confusion and/or rejection of a non-ambiguous racial identity as non-white children are led to prefer or desire a phenotype that is closer to the white ideal that is the standard in Brazil. It is a common theme on this blog.
Fortunately, over the past several years, more and more Afro-Brazilians have been addressing these themes and issues in their own projects. Some of these stories are told on stage, some in short film projects, books, etc. One of the most important topics within these projects is the subject of hair. In Brazil, one’s hair texture is often a defining physical attribute that distinguishes black from white. And even when one is not clearly white, often times, in an attempt to flee classification as negra/negro at all costs, subjects often times land in the “safe” middle category of the “exotic morena/moreno”.
This is the basic background of this latest independent production. Like past productions, this short film also turned to crowdfunding to attract some of the funds to make the project happen. Always great to see and we look forward to seeing more of these initiatives!
“Das Raízes às Pontas” (From the roots to the tips) – ‘Cabelos crespos’ (kinky/curly hair) and identity are the subject of the documentary that will be released on November 17th.
by Blogueiras Negras
The Brasília-based production Das Raízes às Pontas, meaning from the roots to the tips, a short film documentary directed by Flora Egécia will be shown for the first time at Cine Brasília on June 17. The event will also have an exhibition with works by various artists who collaborated on the production, plus a Feira Afro (Afro Expo), all to the sound of Deejay LM and DJ Donna.
The documentary features the personal experiences and transformations of people with different profiles that somehow reintroduce themselves to their origin. Respondents, from a diverse range of different profiles, talk about the role of cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) as part of becoming black and as a political act against aesthetic impositions.
Questioning the beauty standards that are imposed at more and more earlier age, besides dealing with the affirmation of cabelo crespo as a fundamental element of black identity are the main theme of the film, which also evaluates the application of Law 10.639/03 that regulates the teaching of Afro-Brazilian and African History in Brazilian schools.
Conceived by Estúdio Cajuína and produced in partnership with Leni Audiovisual, the documentary came from different experiences of the team. Débora Morais, one of the screenwriters, is a professor of public schools of the Federal District and suggested putting in focus the issue of construction of identity through childhood and with emphasis on cabelo crespo. The director Flora Egécia is a woman and black, and saw in the film an opportunity to give voice to a growing movement of affirmation and rescue of Afro-Brazilian culture, as it possesses a political and artistic position on the issue. The film crew found other stories and the common desire to change the social perspective.
The production had partial funding from FAC – Fundo de Apoio à Cultura do Distrito Federal (Funding of Support to Culture) of the Federal District and its conclusion was made possible thanks to the successful campaign of crowd funding in Catarse, which featured a collaboration of many partners in Brasília, including businessmen and artists.
The film will also appear in audiovisual festivals across the country and distributed in the public schools of the Federal District, in addition to being provided exclusive lectures for educators.
Blogueiras Negras had the opportunity to chat with the director Flora Egécia about the movie, about being a black woman and the expectations around the film. Follow.
Blogueiras Negras: How did you become a film director?
Flora Egécia: I graduated in Industrial Design and also studied photography during graduation. Some years after my graduation we developed – my partners and I Estúdio Cajuína – a documentary project about makeshift homes for a year, which would turn into a photographic exhibition, inEspaço. During the research and production of photographs, we made a visual record of all interviews and this material turned into a documentary, which was well received and had a good repercussion. After this experience I became more interested in working with film, I started to research more about the documentary and in the same period came the idea of making of Das Raízes às Pontas, 3 years ago.
BN: How do you analyze the current cultural policies for the audiovisual in Brazil? And how is the black population included in these policies?
FE: In recent years, the quantity of public edicts and opportunities in this area has increased significantly; the variety of funds and format has contributed including to independent cinema. I don’t consider that we’ve reached the ideal, but the expansion of this funding is visible. However, like our presence at all stages of audiovisual productions, policies that aim to balance this access are still few. Cinema is still mostly male and white. Recently we were able to follow the Edital Curta Afirmativo (Affirmative Short Edict), which came to be suspended, and it was clear the obstacles to implement these policies. In the case of Curta Afirmativo the award was 100 thousand reais, a low figure for a cinematic production, so in addition to more edicts we also need more values consistent with the cost of making a film.
BN: What was it like to work with black girls and women who had never been stars of a film?
FE: Only two respondents were already used to this type of exposure, the singer Ellen Oléria and actress Sheron Menezzes, for the rest it was a novelty and it moved me very much the giving of each for the film. Despite knowing several people who fit the profile I was looking for, I chose to invite characters that were not part of my inner circles, because I was willing to learn stories and opinions that were not necessarily consistent with mine. And the stories I heard constantly crossed with mine, it’s the feeling of insecurity or empowerment … The most striking experience undoubtedly was with Luiza, who is 12 and is the youngest interviewed. She has, today, such a positive relationship with her identity that neither I nor the others interviewed had at that age. I think maybe I didn’t have until today, this process of empowerment and reconnection with our cultural origin is something I experienced 24 hours a day, in an intense way. Our idea is with the film to collaborate with a change that results in several Luizas in the next generation.
BN: What paths does Flora Egécia suggest so that more black women occupy the audiovisual field in a position of leadership?
FE: I’m in the beginning of my audiovisual career and relating to other black directors added to my experience, this unity is important. We have to assume a place of powerful speech, construct stories and not re-produce them, that’s the position of male and female audiovisual directors. We also need to celebrate and remember the black male and female directors who have made movies in the last century, they are not duly recognized and need to go beyond our circle of activism, we need to bring them with us.
BN: What are the most striking points in the testimonies of these girls and women about their relationship with cabelo crespo in the face of such a racist scenario, as the Brazilian scenario is?
FE: I think it’s the naturalization of these processes of embranquecimento (whitening) since childhood when generally they suffer their first straightening. The masking the natural hair becomes something as natural and necessary as bathing. And in this context the “naturalization” never had such a negative sense, it comes with a lot of insecurity and fear, destroying our self-esteem. This stimulus is always external, no one is born convinced that they have right or wrong hair. Another point that was remarkable and that should be discussed is that among the cabelo crespo and the racist system in which we live, there is the hair with less desired texture or one that does not “form curl” and most of our (few) references in the media are still women with fine features, with fair skin and hair considered ideal among the crespo (kinky/curly) and cacheado (curly) possibilities. This scenario makes even more difficult the understanding of each one of us about our body.
Release – Da Raiz as Pontas
Novembro 17th at Cine Brasilia
EQS 106/107 – Asa Sul,Brasília – DF,70345-400
Source: Blogueras Negras