Filmmaker Eliciana Nascimento’s film project “On the Day Matthew Was Born”; a rare Afro-Brazilian story

Filmmaker Eliciana Nascimento and a scene from her first film, "On The Day Matthew Was Born" (No dia que Mateus Nasceu)
Filmmaker Eliciana Nascimento and a scene from her first film, “On The Day Matthew Was Born” (No dia que Mateus Nasceu)

Note from BW of Brazil: The mission here at BW of Brazil has always been to give more exposure to the millions of invisible black Brazilian women that are basically ignored by Brazil’s extremely Eurocentric media as well as analyze Latin America’s largest country through the prism of race. With that said, BW of Brazil is extremely happy to bring to you a film project by Afro-Brazilian filmmaker Eliciana Nascimento who is working on her Master’s of Fine Arts degree at San Francisco State University in California. She is working on a promising film project  in her native Bahia in northeastern Brazil and needs the support of anyone who believes in this project. If you don’t know about the extreme dearth of black representation in the media as well as many of other facets of Brazilian society, please feel free to read some of the articles dealing with the topic of whiteness in Brazil.

There are only a small handful of Afro-Brazilian filmmakers who have managed to get any of their projects financed and released, thus when we would like to take this opportunity to give some love to an up and coming, talented filmmaker. There are many aspiring Afro-Brazilian filmmakers who simply don’t get the support to make films that feature black casts. A few weeks ago, BW of Brazil presented the new Joel Zito Araújo documentary, Raça, which is a snapshot of the struggle for racial equality in Brazil today. We also featured the triumph and controversy surrounding his first feature length film, Filhas do VentoIf you understand the struggle it is to get films by black filmmakers made in the US, understand the process is infinitely more difficult for black Brazilian directors. Stories told by black Brazilians and featuring black Brazilians simply don’t exist. 

Please see a brief clip of Eliciana’s film project, a short video of her talking about her project (featuring actor Danny Glover and his wife Eliane Cavalleiro) as well as a written description of the project. If you like what you see, please head on over the the Kickstarter website and make a donation to help Eliciana complete her project. Every little bit helps!

The Summer of God por Eliciana Nascimento

On The Day Matthew Was Born – No dia que Mateus Nasceu
from Eliciana Nascimento

On The Day Matthew Was Born is a short narrative that explores the life of a young musician Betinho (Romero Mateus) living in a slum of a city in Northeast Brazil. Betinho is adored by his entire community. On the day his son is born, he is surprised by an event that changes the lives of all.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/67597306″>On The Day Matthew Was Born – No dia que Mateus Nasceu</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/eliciana”>Eliciana Nascimento</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

A young girl visits her grandmother in rural Brazil where she encounters Orixás (African Gods) who challenge her with a mission.

What’s the film about? The Summer of Gods is a short film about a young girl named Lilli who visits her grandmother in rural Brazil. Near her village, she encounters Orixás (African gods) who challenge her with a mission. The film is set in the Northeast of Brazil where Afro-Brazilian religious traditions remain strong. In the film, Lilli’s grandmother is in charge of an annual celebration for the Orixá Yemanjá. In real life, the event is known in Brazil as Festa de Yemanja and it is the largest Orixá celebration in the country. In this event, devotees of African religious traditions dress in all white to take their offerings to the sea to thank Yemanja for helping them in their social and political struggles. In The Summer of Gods, this celebration is at risk of expiring because Lili’s great-grandmother is about to pass away. Grandma is a well revered local priestess who unites her community to honor the Orixás. Lili is blessed by the goddesses as well. To preserve tradition, they lead her on a mystical adventure through a nearby forest which symbolizes her initiation into the tradition.

Who is making this film? Film director Eliciana Nascimento is an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) candidate at San Francisco State University. This is her second narrative film and its completion will mean the fulfillment of her degree.

Eliciana’s statement: “My interest in telling this story is to help preserve my ancestors’ traditions. Personal life experience informs its characters and theme as many elements of the film are pulled from my own childhood memories. As a native Brazilian living in a foreign country, I have developed an interest in Pan-African themes. I have noticed that the issues Afro-Brazilians face in Brazil are similar to those faced by African descendants here in the United States and in nations throughout the Americas. As a storyteller and social activist, my motivations around filmmaking are rooted in telling stories of people from the African Diaspora who have often been marginalized by societies and the mainstream film industry. My goal is to use cinema as a tool to reveal the beauty, culture and mythology of these people.

What will you use the money for? 

To bring this magical film to life. Together with our own money, the $30,000 goal will cover our basic production needs in Bahia including camera equipment rentals, lighting, production design, electrical generators (for shooting in a rural setting), boats for filming on water, catering to feed everyone, local transportation for crew and equipment, costume creation, and paying a decent wage to local actors and crew members (grips, gaffers, electricians, production assistants, videographers, a steadicam operator, cooks, a script supervisor, a photographer, location scouts, background actors, set dressers etc).

Just as was done with Eliciana’s first-year film, On The Day Matthew Was Born, we leveraged inspired help from the local community in Brazil to make up for the lack of big hollywood resources and had amazing results. We plan on doing this again to make every cent of your contributions count.

What if you raise over $30,000?

We take this film to the next level. Those of us onboard already strongly believe in Eliciana’s story and know the film will be great, but we’d love to really let it shine by upping the production value and getting the word out once the film is done. During editing, this will mean hiring post-production specialists like visual effects mavericks, music composers, sound designers, and color graders. After the film is complete, we’d love to use extra cash to kick off a distribution campaign that includes submissions to top-tier film festivals, publicity of all kinds, and even an interactive children’s book to serve as a companion to the film.

Risks and challenges

Making a film at the level proposed here is incredibly hard. What makes Eliciana the best person to make this film?

Proven Track Record: Eliciana wrote her first MFA film, On the Day Matthew was Born, and after gaining a green light from professors, she successfully garnered the support of many incredibly hard-working creative pros to help produce, edit, and finalize it.

Straight A’s: As she concludes her three-year MFA program, Eliciana is proud to boast that her lowest grade among all classes is an A-. Filmmaking is an incredibly complex process of ticking off thousands of small and large tasks. You’ve really got to be a driven individual to finish a film much less finish a good or great film. The A’s on Eliciana’s transcript tell us she’s fully dedicated to putting in the hard work to gather the right people and go the necessary extra 10 miles to get the job done.

Green lights: Each Cinema MFA student has to stand in front of a panel of graduate professors (themselves established filmmakers) and present their thesis film proposal. The proposal not only includes everything about the content of the film they have written and want to direct and produce, but also all the details about how they’ll get the job done. This includes budgets, shot lists, storyboards, and production plans. After careful review, Eliciana’s panel has given her that green light without hesitation. That means they can clearly see she has all her ducks in a row, thought out each detail, and is prepared to act.

Many things can go wrong and some definitely will, but it’s par for the course in filmmaking and all obstacles will be overcome. We’ll be sure to update you about them as they arise. Some of them could be fun. 🙂

Source: Kickstarter

About Marques Travae 3722 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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