Cultne’s objective is to curate and to produce Afro Brazilian cinema and to advance such content to the global audience. This objective is vitally important because Brazil is the largest Latin American country, geographically and in population, as well as the continent’s greatest national cinema. Despite this legacy, the African participation has been problematic on many levels.
The first screening of films in Brazil took place in 1896. Developing quickly, independently produced films began to dominate the Brazilian market that culminated in a rich period between 1908-1912, which is now known as the bela e poca, (the golden age) of Brazilian cinema. However, very quickly, films from the United States appeared and soon dominated the Brazilian market. Because of this onslaught, Brazilian film producers were vanquished to the sidelines and specialized in producing newsreels and documentaries. It is generally accepted that this incursion of predatory foreign product, that cinema became a platform for the construction and advancement of a Brazilian national identity.
With capital infusion and the advent of sound, Brazilians attempted to directly compete with Hollywood and Europe for the Brazilian audience. To achieve success, Brazilian producers sought to mimic the US mode of production with the creation of studio Vera Cruz, which eventually created the uniquely Brazilian genre of entertaining musical comedies named the Chanchada. The true giant standout within this genre was the great Carmen Miranda, who has since been ingrained within the psyche of all as the visual metaphor of Brazil. Other studios would appear such as Atlantida in Rio de Janeiro and Vera Cruz in São Paulo. Great actors such as Oscarito and Grande Otello evolved during this period. Both studios would end in bankruptcy because both studios negated the sensibilities of the Brazilian audience by trying to parallel foreign themes and narrative constructions. In turn, this poor positioning gave rise to the advent of Cinema Novo period starting in the early 1950’s, which is without doubt the greatest period of cinematic narrative of Brazilian history. Cinema Novo expressed a grittiness, a coarseness, and what some see as an aesthetic of resistance.
The Cinema Novo genre was reflected of excellent narrative construction on limited budgets and became internationally accepted critical acclaim for the nation. Deeply imbedded with the Cinema Novo genre are deep appreciations of social, historical, political, and philosophical issues that define Brazil and its place within human society.
Cinema Novo became the rallying cinematic cry for the nation. The filmmakers of this genre became a metaphor for the conflict at the heart of the nation’s cultural identity. Cinema Nova was successful rejected the idea of seeking identity from the viewpoint of the European and American. It also rejected the narrow stereotype of palm tree-lined exoticism already held by Europeans and Americans. Cinema Novo was not about: sun, sand, samba, soccer, and sex.
However, despite this rich cinematic history, the presence of the African element of Brazilian life has been problematic and reflective of how white supremacy has viewed and stereotypically constructed black life in harsh terms. Historically, there has been relatively few filmic depictions produced and directed by black Brazilians. The byproduct has been a structural absence of blackness in Brazilian films, being relegated as background and atmospheric props. Our goal is to alter and change this historical narrative, which is vitally important because the implementation of affirmative action policies in Brazil has stimulated the debate on racial inequality as well as the adoption of quotas in the federal, state and municipal levels, along with the incentive to cultural actions with a focus on diversity. Producing these aspects of life, cinematically will lead to the richness of Brazilian society.
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