All the Dead Ones

Caetano Gotardo, Marco Dutra

IndieLisboa 2020 •

Brazil, France, Fiction, 2020, 120′

 Last year, IndieLisboa put up a program called Brazil Entranced with many important names of the emergent new and politically engaged Brazilian cinema, among them Your Bones and Your Eyes by Caetano Gotardo. In 2018 we saw Good Manners by Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra. Now, Gotardo and Dutra together give us a story of two families and the hauntings of slavery and colonization, in a São Paulo city at the turn of the twentieth century.

Maria, a nun, moves forward on dark stairs, a torch in her hand. She is scared, as if something is watching her, lurking in the dark. The scene looks like a pure archetype of horror but nothing, strictly nothing is going to be truly as expected in All the Dead Ones: neither the supernatural film that we imagine, nor the period film that seems so undoubtedly to take form. The feature takes place at a tipping point, in the twilight of the 19th century, during an era of societal change for Brazil. But again, change is not carried out so clearly, in the country as in the rich home of the Soares family. Slavery has been abolished in Brazil for ten years, but what remains of it in social structures, in class relations? For the Soares family, Europe is “the origin of everything”, Africa is a great indistinct magma, the tone is that kind of paternalism that the colonists imagine benevolent and magnanimous. All the Dead Ones observes whiteness and its hegemony in an unprecedented way in a world that seems to be moving forward … but is it really moving? For who? Released a few years ago, Caetano Gotardo’s first feature film was called O Que se Move, literally meaning what moves. This is a title that could have suited this too, in a film where we feel a world in turmoil, but where we also observe another which appears frozen. (Mickael Gaspar)