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Brazilian Mythscapes

“The world has changed: it did not change without your prayers/ without your faith without your determination to believe in liberation and kindness; without your dancing through the years that had no beat.”
― Alice Walker, Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: New Poems

Social ambiguities, mythical creatures, traces of failure, unbreakable dreams. Ranging from Cinema Novo to the contemporary scene, Brazilian Mythscapes presents a selection of 16 films that enter into a dialogue with Duncan S. A. Bell’s notion of the mythscape, a ‘discursive realm in which the myths of a nation are forged, transmitted, negotiated and reconstructed’. Landscapes that shape or disturb the collective imagery of Brazil and question the myths with which Brazilians identify and are identified permeate the films.

One of the founding myths of the country, the colonial narrative of the encounter between indigenous people and “civilized men”, is contested in APIYEMIYEKÎ?, with drawings revealing the perspective of the Waimiri-Atroari on the event. CARMEN MIRANDA: BANANAS IS MY BUSINESS unveils how the invention of a national icon involves racism, which is equally present in the everyday lives of the characters of both PERPETUAL and BABILÔNIA 2000, who challenge the future to which they are assigned. And if ‘hard times require furious dancing’ as Alice Walker suggests in her book of poetry, BYE BYE BRASIL and MY OWN PRIVATE HELL testify that they also require furious dreaming: whether in an 80’s road movie or in a tender fable shot in a bar, everyone wants to find home.

The idea of dissident temporalities also underpins the selected works, as they evoke Weltanschauungen other than those prevalent in the Global North. If a myth always refers to events alleged to have taken place in time (e.g. before the world was created, or during its first stages), what ultimately gives a myth value is its perpetuity; it entangles past, present and future while creating new meanings for life. Drawing on a wide range of aesthetics, the films explore historical conflicts that may also echo through current socio-political disputes and in the futures we dare to build. The program was curated by Marina Carvalho as part of her German Chancellor Fellowship at Arsenal. The starting points were the film collections of the Brazilian Embassy in Berlin and the Arsenal archive. (Marina Carvalho)

With thanks to the Brazilian Embassy for the four 35mm prints and their friendly support of the program as well as to the German Chancellor Grants.

Past screenings

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur