“Boca do Lixo” y cómo armar un ciclo en BAFICI, por Gabe Klinger
Gabe Klinger es un colega y amigo estadounidense, de familia brasileña (a él le gusta autodenominarse brasileño, pero no le crean…) Le pedí que me enviara recomendaciones y como es uno de los programadores del Foco BOCA DO LIXO, lo dedicó a escribir sobre esos filmes, no sin antes contar la historia de cómo se […]
Gabe Klinger es un colega y amigo estadounidense, de familia brasileña (a él le gusta autodenominarse brasileño, pero no le crean…) Le pedí que me enviara recomendaciones y como es uno de los programadores del Foco BOCA DO LIXO, lo dedicó a escribir sobre esos filmes, no sin antes contar la historia de cómo se armó el programa -con algunas críticas a la organización misma del BAFICI-, qué es BOCA DO LIXO y analizar las cuatro películas que se muestran aquí.
Gabe escribió en inglés y por más que me encantaría traducírselos, no tengo tiempo de hacerlo. Confío que la gente interesada en el tema tendrá el suficiente conocimiento del inglés para entender esta interesantísima explicación de lo que es BOCA DO LIXO y, también, de los problemas que según Gabe tiene el BAFICI para armar este tipo de retrospectivas.
Los dejo con “Gabrielito Klinger”, que vendrá al BAFICI y seguramente podrá hablar más del tema con los espectadores del ciclo.
“It goes without saying that I recommend the four films I chose in the Boca do Lixo section of this years festival. However, that “I chose” should be accompanied with an asterisk: first, because the four selections were extracted from a much wider program that Gerwin Tamsma and I curated at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and second, because the selection was worked out in consultation with BAFICI’s programmers, specifically Sergio Wolf and Fran Gayo. However, before I fully recommend (and help put into context) those four selections, I feel compelled to share a few frustrations.
As an invitee of this year’s BAFICI, I’d hate to appear ungrateful. Let me preface by saying that I think that BAFICI is one of the best events of its kind in Latin America — perhaps it’s even the best. But the festival is spreading itself too thin. Like Rotterdam, BAFICI may be over-programmed.
BAFICI doesn’t have the vast infrastructure of a 40 year-old Euro institution like Rotterdam, however, and as much as programming diversity is welcome and appreciated in BAFICI’s case, I feel that certain programs, like the Boca do Lixo, ultimately get shortchanged for a variety of reasons.
To understand the Boca do Lixo historically, one must actually be able to see the entire span of it: from late ’60s experimental productions to debaucherous hardcore porn from the mid-’80s. Unfortunately, that arch is not represented in the BAFICI focus, even though I’m sure the organizers would wish for it to be. There were space and money issues that could not be resolved in such a brief timeline. The emphasis in that last sentence should be on *brief timeline*. So, under ideal circumstances, more time would have allowed us to:
— discuss a comprehensive survey much like the one we successfully presented in Rotterdam;
— allow BAFICI’s programming staff to watch films individually;
— raise money and sponsorship from Brazilian cultural institutions
(the embassy, the cinematheque in São Paulo) to be able to
1) commission dialogue translation for the films,
2) pay Gerwin Tamsma and myself a consultation fee,
3) produce a booklet or catalogue in Spanish specifically on the series, and
4) invite Boca do Lixo filmmakers to attend.
On the latter point, one of the most beautiful things about presenting the Boca series in Rotterdam was having directors such as Claúdio Cunha and João Silvério Trevisan discover their work again with audiences for the first time in more than thirty years or even forty years in some cases. I sincerely hope that BAFICI knows what an opportunity they have missed.
As it stands, BAFICI might have improved their catalogue and web presentation of the four titles by coming up with a coherent way of framing the Boca do Lixo focus. The brief catalogue blurb, edited from my and Gerwin’s program notes (and without our input), is rather confusing to anyone coming to the films for the first time. It explains what the Boca was, but it says nothing about why the four specific films were chosen. Some kind of background would benefit the films, so let me try to provide one here:
The Boca do Lixo was, as it says in the catalogue, a center for lowbudget film production in the center of São Paulo. (Some festival press releases incorrectly state that the Boca do Lixo was in a suburb of São Paulo.) In the late ’60s it was a place where producers explored alternatives to the existing (and largely failed) commercial film industry in Brazil by betting on young visionaries like Rogério Sganzerla (represented a few years ago at BAFICI). But as many of these films were rejected by audiences or banned outright by the military regime, financiers began to favor tried and true narrative formulas, mostly within genres that were already popular in American and European films.
Hence the rise of the sex comedy as the Boca’s best known (and most exported) specimen. However, it should be noted that sex comedies –or pornochanchadas, as some Brazilians called them disparagingly –were not the only types of films produced there: everything from period pieces to slasher flicks were part of the Boca landscape.
By the late ’70s there was an increasing demand for films of an erotic nature. Distributors started to import more films of these kinds from the U.S., Italy and Japan. Nagisa Oshima’s IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES proved to be such a huge box office hit (5 million tickets) that it paved the way for Boca do Lixo’s next phase: hardcore production.
Initially, some of the hardcore films, which had been allowed by the military censorship board starting in 1981, were quite inventive and challenged conventional norms of the genre. By the mid-’80s, Boca production had turned to the debaucherous and were straight male-oriented, alienating women, families, and progressive city dwellers. The films in the BAFICI offer a good mix of this period, from more intellectually-minded and cinephlic experiments from the beginning of the ’80s (represented by Carlos Reichenbach’s IMPÉRIO DO DESEJO) to the dead-end raunch of the mid- to late-’80s (of which FUK FUK À BRASILEIRA is the most demented and irreverent example).
A bit about each film and why you shouldn’t miss out:
O IMPÉRIO DO DESEJO (Carlos Reichenbach, 1981) — the Cinemateca Brasileira struck a beautiful 35mm print of the film from the original negative specifically for our Rotterdam series, and as far as I know, BAFICI will be only second to have ever screened the new copy. Reichenbach gave very specific light timing instructions to the lab, and the print is glorious…. Considering the film had been unavailable for something like thirty years, this elevates any screenings of Reichenbach’s masterpiece to EVENT status. My favorite in the program.
A OPÇÃO (Ozualdo Candeias, 1981) — Kind of the outsider film in the series, as its director didn’t exactly have commercial ambitions for the project and raised the money to do it largely on his own… the result is something that resembles the narrative-docu hybrid films of today, especially of the contemplative variety. Some in Rotterdam thought it was too slow, a complaint you often here leveled at “art” or “festival” films today. Candeais, formerly a truck driver, was a completely intuitive, self-trained artist. In Rotterdam, someone have compared the film, especially the astounding final 10 minutes, to Buñuel’s LOS OLVIDADOS. I think that’s a fair comparison… This one is also being shown in a new 35mm print.
OH! REBUCETEIO (Claudio Cunha, 1984) — I can say, conclusively, that this was the best of around the 100 or so hardcore films I watched when I researched the Boca series for Rotterdam. An adjective you can easily append to many Boca films from the ’80s is “sloppy” –fortunately, it’s not the case with Claudio Cunha’s films, and especially OH! REBUCETEIO. Not only was he an extremely attentive craftsmen, but Cunha liked to color outside of narrative lines, incorporating lots of risky ideas that helped take his films to new political and philosphical dimensions. He was also a master satirist, as evidenced in this and his earlier SNUFF — VICTIMS OF PLEASURE (1977). Cunha caught the pleasure-seeking audience in Rotterdam off guard when he said his film was essentially about the “sadness of living under a military dictatorship.”
FUK FUK À BRASILEIRA (Jean Garret, 1986) — I can’t say this was the best hardcore film I saw of those one hundred or so, but it was definitely the WEIRDEST and possibly the most vulgar and offensive. And, hey, that’s saying quite a lot! FUK FUK was the swan song of its prolific author, who had formerly made lots of strange but basically middle of the road, soap opera-y films in the Boca, and it’s obviously a testament to his disenfranchisement, a spit in the face to an industry that would no longer let him make the films he wanted to. If you want to have an idea of why Triunfo Street, the Boca do Lixo’s main pathway, was ultimately a dead-end, look no further than this film. It says so many things about the demoralized state of Brazilian society in the ’80s that I can’t even begin to enumerate them in such a forum (without giving Diego a translation headache). New 35mm print.