This book examines the vibrant field of documentary filmmaking in Brazil from the transition to democracy in 1985 to the present. Marked by significant efforts toward the democratization of Brazil's highly unequal society, this period also witnessed the documentary's rise to unprecedented vitality in quantity, quality, and diversity of production-which includes polished auteur films as well as rough-hewn collaborative works, films made in major metropolitan regions as well as in indigenous villages and in remote parts of the Amazon, intimate first-person documentaries as well as films that dive headfirst into struggles for social justice. The transformations of Brazilian society and of filmmaking coalesce and become entangled in this cinema's preoccupation with archives. Historically linked to the exercise and maintenance of power, the concept of the archive is critical for the documentary as a cultural practice that preserves images from the present for the future, unearths and repurposes visual materials from the past, and is historically invested in filmic images as records of the real. Contemporary films incorporate, reflect on, and rework a variety of archives, such as documents produced by official institutions, ethnographic images, home movies, and photo albums-and engage not only with what is preserved but also with lacunas in the record and with alternate forms of remembering, retrieving, and transmitting the past. Through its interaction with archives, this book argues, the contemporary documentary reflects on and intervenes in the distribution of visibilities and invisibilities, centers and margins, silences and speech, living memory and its preservation in the record-thus locating the documentary on archival borders that concern Brazilian society and filmmaking alike.
This book is eminently political. It tackles documentary filmmaking as a way of interfering in and changing society. Furtado has devised a tremendously original and effective method of understanding documentary making in Brazil as the construction of a huge archive where memory, history and culture combine in order to provide a reliable programme for a better future. For the first time, in this book, indigenous production is given pride of place alongside consecrated masterpieces, such as Eduardo Coutinho's 20 Years Later, Joao Moreira Salles's Santiago, and Adirley Queiros' recent documentary sci-fi Black Out, White In. With breathtaking erudition, attentive to both the detail and the broader picture, Furtado has given us a riveting and compelling vision of Brazil today. Brazilian politicians would have a lot to learn from it! * Lucia Nagib, Professor of Film, University of Reading * Addressing both contemporary documentary production in Brazil and documentary cinema in general, Furtado uses the concept of the archive to explore the intersections of memory, representation and power. Skillfully weaving sophisticated theoretical arguments with contextual and detailed film analyses, the book is a pleasure to read. It makes a crucially significant intervention in Brazilian film studies and will also become an essential companion to any discussion of contemporary documentary cinema. * Ana Lopez, Tulane University * An exhilarating work, Gustavo Furtado's wide-ranging Documentary Filmmaking in Brazil, heralds a bright future for Brazilian film criticism. Furtado gives us fresh insights even about films whose meaning had presumably been exhaustively covered. Especially impressive is his sensitivity to the issues raised by indigenous media and 'first contact' films. The mobilization of theory for purposes of close analysis is simply brilliant. * Robert Stam, New York University * Highly recommended. * D. West, CHOICE *