Sérgio Tréfaut: Paraiso

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

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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