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90 min. Portuguese.

Marcelo de Sousa is a cowboy in the Brazilian pampa. He likes his job, the riding, the cattle, which he tenderly calls by their names, and the land that feeds him. After he’s unable to prevent a vicious raid on the ranch, which results in a hundred cattle in his charge being stolen, nothing is the same. He becomes depressed and gives up his job. Luckily, he has good friends and a big passion, blossoming in his role as the master of ceremonies at rodeo shows. His rousing rap-style announcements pay homage not only to the cowboy culture but also to the solidarity of the rural community, which has little trust in the country’s political leadership.
In Querência, director Helvécio Marins shows a melancholy hero whose life is in disarray, but who still remains true to himself. His sure direction refrains from being overly dramatic and concentrates on creating a portrait of a specific lifestyle. That he’s so successful at this is thanks to camerawork that captures the moments of loneliness just as precisely as the raucous excitement of the rodeo shows and the vastness of the landscape, bathed in warm light. (Hanna Keller)

Helvécio Marins Jr. was born in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil in 1973. In 1997, he finished his law studies at the Brazilian university Faculdades Milton Campos. Then, until 2002, he studied film at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte. In 2014, he lived in Berlin for several months as a beneficiary of the Berlin Artists-in-Residence programme of the DAAD.

Brazilian Rodeo

QUERÊNCIA is a film about rural Brazil, about an unknown, ignored and marginalised part of Brazil. It portrays a region that differs greatly from what is usually shown in movies or the media, namely the big cities and their problems. The film is primarily about the protagonists’ life in the countryside and about a region that is still strongly influenced by their ancestors’ rituals and traditions. In QUERÊNCIA, men live off the land and share it with their animals, with whom they have a very personal and loving relationship – which, in turn, is a fundamental aspect of this culture that endures (and resists!). The relationship of the countrymen with the land and the animals traverses all aspects of country life and is reflected in religious rituals and festivals, as well as in the gastronomy and music.
The film takes place in a rural region of the state of Minas Gerais. The characters are played by people who live and work in the locations where the shoot took place. The plot is largely based on their real-life stories. Marcelo, the film’s protagonist, has the same first name in real life – most of the characters are named after the actors. Marcelo plays a young, 30-year-old cowboy who was born and raised by the banks of the Urucuia River, the same river adored by the character of Riobaldo in João Guimarães Rosa’s book, ‘The Devil to Pay in the Backlands’. Marcelo now lives on a farm. The film appropriates his voice, body and gestures to tell his story, as well as that of the other cowboys.
Working with non-professional actors requires mutual trust. Building such a relationship takes time – to live and work together, to build friendships and exchange. This process made it possible for Marcelo, Kaic, Branco, Roni and the rest of the non-professional cast to play roles and follow directions without giving up their identities. It was a time marked by a generosity that is reflected on the screen.

A natural anti-hero of our times
The film tells the story of Marcelo and how he manages to rebuild a normal life after a traumatic event: when about a hundred heads of cattle were stolen during a robbery of the farm where he works as a cowboy. In fact, the cattle raid also happened in Marcelo’s real life and is considered one of the greatest robberies in the region’s history.
In the film, Marcelo loses all confidence after this event and feels isolated. But his humane values and his captivating simplicity make him a natural anti-hero for our times. His candour, sensitivity and honesty are not mere character traits, they flow through the heart and soul of this young man.
Over the course of the film, this lonely and melancholic cowboy turns into a rodeo presenter who delights his audience and recognises his antagonist, the man responsible for the robbery, in a rodeo at the end of the film.
QUERÊNCIA connects Marcelo’s story to the life of the people in the region: their rituals (like the blessing of cattle and cowboys), the work in the fields, their relationship to the animals (reflected in the names they give to the cows and oxen: Dynamite, Pokemon, Seven Hearts, Barrada, Widow). The film also shows the inability of the powerful and of the city folk to understand the rural world, as well as scenes of collaboration between Kaic, Branco, Roni and Marcelo, which also describe what they eat and drink, the music they love and, above all, their love for the land.
And finally, there is the rodeo, the arena of Marcelo’s transformation from cowboy to presenter. With his captivating personality, he leads the audience and sets the tone of the show, which might be inspired by North American rodeos, but retains a very Brazilian touch – just like the verses that Marcelo and Kaic recite. These verses either make the audience laugh or they articulate political and social criticism.

The cowboys’ rituals
But QUERÊNCIA also has dreamlike or phantasmagoric elements. At times, Marcelo invokes spirits, recounts memories and draws connections to his dreams. Time and again, he comes back to the robbery, discussing it with others or processing it in his dreams. Over the course of the film, these fragmentary moments appear more and more frequently, and at some point they also start to include memories of Marcelo’s first love, a beautiful young woman who appears in a more or less spectral form at various moments throughout the film – just like the dead cows and oxen remembered by Marcelo and the other cowboys. 
QUERÊNCIA begins in a mode that is almost documentary, depicting the preparations and the training rituals in the lead-up to a rodeo. At first there are no characters and the film simply shows all the necessary steps and actions that precede a rodeo. It is only after this long sequence that Marcelo is introduced, in an equally documentary scene, which shows him together with other cowboys, all of them on horseback, driving a large herd of cattle across a pasture.
This kind of narrative, which recalls Robert Flaherty’s MOANA, uses the transformative power of cinema to immerse the viewer into these people’s world and tell a story. It is no coincidence that the film also concludes with a documentary sequence. At the end, we again see the people who at the start of the film had led a procession-like herd of cattle out into the pasture. Now they enter the city of Unaí, spreading through the streets under the astonished eyes of the city people.
QUERÊNCIA is a film about Marcelo and about the love for the land, the animals and nature. It is important to underline that this film is about the simple life of the Sertanejos, who live forgotten and ignored in a remote corner of Brazil. There, where people live with so little, Marcelo becomes a model of humanity and strength of character – qualities that are becoming increasingly rare in contemporary Brazil. Moreover, he becomes a person of fundamental importance through his opposition to the political, financial, moral and ethical crisis in which Brazil is currently mired. (Helvécio Marins Jr.)

Production Eliane Ferreira, Pablo Iraola, Walter Salles, Paulo de Carvalho, Gudula Meinzolt. Production companies Muiraquitã Filmes (São Paulo, Brazil), Videofilmes (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Autentika Films (Berlin, Germany). Written and directed by Helvécio Marins Jr.. Cinematography Arauco Hernandez Holz. Editing Telmo Churro. Music O Grivo. Sound design O Grivo. Sound Gustavo Fioravante. Production design Denise Vieira. Costumes Denise Vieira. With Marcelo di Souza (Marcelo), Kaic Lima (Kaic), Carlos Dalmir (Branco), Márcia Rosa (Márcia), Abadia Amparo Pires do Maciel (Badu), Nivaldo Botelho (Nivaldo), Vanessa Ribeiro (Vanessa), Rone Trindade (Rone), Diélyka Souza Maciel (Diélyka), Antonio Pires Maciel (Tonho).

World sales The Open Reel
Premiere February 08, 2019, Forum


2001: 2 homens / 2 Men (5 min.). 2003: Alma Nua (6 min., installation loop). 2005: Nascente (17 min.). 2006: Trecho (18 min.). 2009: Nem Marcha Nem Chouta Nor a trot or a cânter (7 min.). 2011: Girimunho / Swirl (90 min.). 2013: Fernando Que Ganhou Um Pássaro Do Mar / Fernando Who Received a Bird From the Sea (20 min., Forum Expanded 2014). 2019: Querência.

Photo: © Sabrina Maniscalco

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