• Maysa Monção

Brazilian Film School received an eviction order amidst Covid pandemic

Film School Darcy Ribeiro, in Rio de Janeiro, has received an eviction order last August 18th, even though Brazil is fighting against the severe effects of the Covid pandemic. The school headquarters has been located inside a public Post and Telegraph Company building -- Empresa Brasileira de Correios e Telégrafos -- since its foundation in 2001. The action is part of the privatization plans of Brazilian state-owned companies, since the Correios are among the companies that President Jair Bolsonaro intends to sell.

The Brazilian Post and Telegraph Company granted the school administration the use of its area in 2000. Previously, the building was abandoned as it was confiscated during the Second World War for being the headquarters of the Deutsche Bank. The Film School administration invested money and time in its refurbishment.

It holds and preserves significant and precious film heritage archives by notorious Brazilian filmmakers and actors, such as Daniel Filho, José Wilker and Ruy Guerra. Now its film heritage archives risk been dismantled. Below you can read the testimony of Eduardo Drummond, a vibrant collaborator and teacher at the school.

"We live in a world in which signs have become commonplace; they have become distressingly empty, with redundancy, vulgarity, frivolity prevailing. We are facing a standstill, and it is then that civilization has to find other ways of resisting, in order to face these exhaustions. Among the violence that these processes unfold are the destruction of education and, with it, aggression against the arts and sciences. The consequences are clear, as the near future will demand that our unfortunate situation of dependency and slavery take place. We will be poorer, not from the materiality brought by money, but from the mental qualities to make a different world, a different world indeed. Logic, art and science are the way we express ourselves. After all, that’s how we form a strengthened society, which unites in the power to invent -- or create -- means and, together with them, a new people, above all, a life that is not just recomposing what has been lost. I speak of the power to generate other outcomes and other possible realities.

I say this in the face of the exorbitant petty measure of evicting the Film School Darcy Ribeiro, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Several international filmmakers have been giving lectures, courses and workshops here for years. The beauty of this educational institution is confused with the absolutely innovative, experimental spirit, with the sense of allowing students to have a proactive impulse, a kind of subatomic particle to create not only the things of this artistic world, but the strength of a first leap , which multiplies in many others, in an endless evolution.

An art school has to be creative and for that it has to self-create in its procedures. The Film School Darcy Ribeiro gave platform to the directors Rui Guerra, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Cacá Diegues, José Carlos Avellar, among others, and above all students, who came from many origins in Brazil, people who came to study, learn to make this multifactorial art, arriving from Pará, Acre, Ceará, Pernambuco, Midwest, Rio Grande do Sul, São Paulo. Also scholars from Africa and Latin America, of all segments and classes, university students, postgraduates, poor or wealthy, all races together there.

More than an institution, the Film School Darcy Ribeiro is a Brazilian culture landmark, an eventful institution in our power to invent new ways of being and producing. As cinema is a dystopian, globalised practice, the Film School Darcy Ribeiro has articulated a resonance throughout Brazil and around the world, placing itself among others, a living expression in Latin American countries, as well as between Europeans and North-Americans. I saw, I repeat, students from countless nations and peoples of the world, I saw Hungarians, Poles, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Russians, Argentines, Bolivians, Peruvians, I saw many, many, indigenous people of our forests and Andean origins. People with and without resources, studying together, speaking of their territories and cultures, learning how cinema and philosophy, literature and cinema can be linked with technology in a pure image of power, to affirm life itself."

Under Bolsonaro administration, there seems to be a consistent plan to undermine culture and artists. He has repeatedly slammed “cultural Marxism”, “gender ideology” and “environmental psychoses” . Bolsonaro declared that: “We are going to get rid of all this crap in Brazil — crap that is corrupt and communist”.

This article was written in collaboration with Eduardo Drummond.

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