White plastic chairs are being arranged in a circle in front of a palace. A show is to begin. A show with lovely people – with a twist from the Beatles text: “All the lovely people where did they all belong, all the lovely people…”. Came to my mind watching Sérgio Tréfaut’s film shot in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, where the director is born, the country he left when a teenager, the country that he has returned to live in. 40 years later. And even if the film is not a political film, as Tréfaut wrote to me, many of the lovely old people singing and dancing have passed away during the pandemic, the film being shot just before covid took over. Read how the director introduces his documentary:
”Elderly people gather every day in the romantic gardens of Catete Palace, the former official residence of the presidents of Brazil from 1867 to 1960, and presently the site of the Museu da República. After sunset, they would tell each other the meaning of life, singing love songs. This film was suddenly interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and became a tribute to a decimated generation.”’
This is of course the aftermath, the tragedy but also the strength of a film, when you see it now, a documentation of a before-Bolsonaro-wonderful-life through songs, performed by people with heart, passion and moving hips, being together on the plastic chairs with the director following some of them to their homes, up the stairs, through many doors and gates to unlock. I read that the singer are called “serestas”, coming from serenades.
I wrote «documentation», wrong, it is a documentary film, “a little film” Tréfaut wrote to me, maybe for him but for me primarily a warm film, a big tribute to Life and Love that all the songs circle around, made with a big heart. CORAZON is the word; in all the songs you hear that word.
Portugal, Brazil, France, 74 mins., 2021