Award-winning Brazilian films shown at ISS

In November 2019, the International Institute of Social Studies hosted two Brazilian Film Nights screening Brazilian films dealing with pressing issues in the country and globally. One session brought up indigenous struggles and the other one gender issues.

'Maña Bai' and 'Tapajó’s Life'

The first movie night screened two short movies, 'Maña Bai', by Yubi Hunikuin, and 'Tapajó’s Life', by Carlos Bandeira Jr.

Both films dealt with indigenous struggles relative to development struggles: one about their interaction with the Brazilian society and their struggle for education, and the other regarding safeguarding their land vis à vis large investment projects.

A brief presentation by Brazilian activist Marisa Aragão and a discussion with the audience followed the screening. The discussion focused on the conflict between indigenous cultures and mainstream white culture, and the imposition of the second onto the first; the conflict between old and new generations in the ways that they interact with development pressures; and how does the Brazilian state see those groups. A comparison with the situation in Ecuador made it clear that their status of vulnerability is a typical situation in Latin America. 

'The Woman with Her Own Light' and 'Flesh'

The producers of both movies in the second Brazilian Film Night were women.

Sinai Sganzerla, with the film 'The Woman with Her Own Light', and Camila Kater, with the short movie 'Flesh', present different perspectives about how to be a woman in Brazilian society.

Sinai’s film shows the story of the Brazilian actress, Helena Ignez, who had a career marked by difficulties and obstacles, especially for being a woman in important periods of Brazilian history.

'Flesh' is an animation portraying the changes of the female body in different ages. Five women expose their feelings and perceptions about their bodies and the interference in their lives, mainly in a society that judges women bodies daily. The director Camila Kater was present at the event and participated in the discussion. Her films won several prizes in Brazil and internationally.

Links to ISS research

The discussion afterwards dealt with the difficulties women face to accept and understand their bodies in a society that tries to categorize female bodies in a way to establish patterns and norms.

The discussion on female bodies is intrinsically linked to ISS research by Professor Wendy Harcourt. In her classes and research, Professor Harcourt discusses the importance of bodies in development issues, and how women have been conditioned by established standards imposed by a patriarchal society. In 'Flesh', the female body is represented as 'meat at the supermarket', a perfect example of this imposition. 

The Governance of Labour and Logistics for Sustainability research project led by Dr Lee Pegler such initiatives, discussions and partnerships as the Film Nights and intends to continue this productive interaction with activists' groups in 2020.

More information

For the trailers and more information about the films:

MANÃ BAI: THE STORY OF MY FATHER - Yube Hanuikuin | 2006 | Brazil | 14’

Pioneer among the indigenous teachers in Acre, in the Amazon Forest, Joaquim Paulo de Lima Kaxinawá was schooled in the language of white people by his rubber tapper bosses. However, he never gave up on the idea of learning a preserving the language and the traditions of his people, located in the Brazilian North region.

Supported by Marlin Azul Institute

Link to film

TAPAJÓ’S LIFE Protocolos de Consulta no Tapajós: Experiências Ribeirinhas e Quilombolas, Carlos Bandeira Jr.| 2018 | Brazil | 20’

This documentary shows how the communities from the West area of Pará, one of the States in which the Amazon Forest is located, organized themselves in order to fight recent threats to their territories. The protocols were created collectively and became an essential tool for resisting huge enterprises that run over the rights of the native residents.

Supported by Terra de Direitos Organization

Link to film

THE WOMAN WITH HER OWN LIGHT A Mulher da Luz Própria, Sinai Sganzerla | 2019 | Brazil | 1h21’

Helena Ignez is one of the leading female figures of Brazilian cinema. She developed a new style of acting. Nowadays, she directs independent films. The documentary tells some of the History of Brazilian cinema, its political context and Helena’s trajectory. 


FLESH Carne, Camila Kater | 2019| Brazil | Spain | 12’

Flesh is about how women are seen as bodies at disposal, judged as time passes as meat cooking stages. Through the form and texture of real materials, such as paint, watercolor, clay, 35mm film and virtual image decomposition as glitches and data mosh, five women are represented in animation to highlight the perverse way in which society looks at them.

Camila Kater about Carne