After a whirlwind two weeks, the Mi Chacra screenings in South America are over, and I’m back in the states.
The screenings in Sao Paulo went very well. The audiences at the two screenings I attended seemed very much engaged by the film, and the discussions afterward were excellent. Some of the kindest words I´ve heard about the film as well, and I would have loved to have stayed for the screening on the 18th.
As I posted on the film’s Facebook page, several people spoke after seeing the film about the misconceptions both people from the countryside and those from the city have about each other’s lives. This idea, along with reactions to Feliciano’s feelings about the differences between the tourists and the porters were major topics of conversation. As a point of contrast to the overall human movement toward cities, one viewer brought up Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement (MST), in which large numbers of people are working to move back to the countryside and establish small farming communities. The film elicited wide ranging conversation, and a strong identification with Feliciano and his family. And again, as I’ve posted elsewhere, perhaps my favorite moment came when, after waiting in the back until everyone had finished asking their questions, a sweet older man approached me, and told me, through the interpreter, that the film was art, and that the images were like paintings.
Speaking with another filmmaker, we agreed that the audiences in Brazil were really incredible – there is a serious audience of film lovers with an appetite for challenging docs at this festival. And that is what they seem to get. I am certainly not an expert on the subject, but the programming seems very rigorous – perhaps a bit more intellectual fare than you would find at most festivals in the states. The docs I saw were inspiring – some really courageous examinations of difficult subjects.
I have to admit, I felt a bit of trepidation when planning the trip. My only recent exposure to Sao Paulo was the film Manda Bala, so, of course, I expected complete chaos. Honestly, going to one of the largest cities in the world, in a country I’d never visited, to show a film that questions the urbanization of the human community, I was unsure what to expect. I came away having heard extremely thoughtful reactions, and feeling a very positive connection with the people I met. I hope I have the opportunity to return again some time in the future.