Dir: Bia Lessa , Dany Roland
75 min., 35mm, 1:1.66, Color
Produktion: Bia Lessa Produçäes Artísticas. Buch: Bia Lessa, nach dem Roman 'Der Erwählte' von Thomas Mann. Kamera: Bia Lessa. Schnitt: Sérgio Mekler. Ton: Dany Roland. Blow-up: Four Media, Burbank/California.
Uraufführung: 24. September 1996.
Weltvertrieb: RioFilms, Praça Floriano 19/14., 20.031-050 Rio de Janeiro. Tel.: (55-21) 220 70 90, Fax: (55-21) 220 89 49.
Fri 14.02. 15:00 Arsenal Mon 17.02. 20:45 Kino 7 im Zoo Palast Tue 18.02. 11:00 Delphi
In today's world, culture can no longer be considered a national property. Different peoples exchange ideas and it is clear that this interchange enriches culture, sets in motion learning processes, promotes mutual respect and tolerance. CREDE-MI, Bia Lessa and Dany Roland's latest film goes one step further. They not only bring together Brazilian and non-Brazilian cultures as a form of cultural exchange; they aim at uniting cultures, but this, however, is not meant as a sort of cultural promiscuity. Rather, Bia and Dany mean to enrich culture, focussing on the cultural life of some Brazilian ethnic groups, with the help of selected works based on their own private experiences, attitudes and impressions, by conveying the characteristic word-painting of their distinct languages and the general appearance of their costumes and scenery. One culture is not imposed on the other; one culture is not emphasized at the cost of the other. Much to the contrary, the different forms of culture draw their inspiration from one another. In their most recent work, CREDE-MI, Bia and Dany achieve this in a most striking way.
The film is based on Thomas Mann's 'The Holy Sinner' (Der Erwählte) which in its turn is based on the 12th century courtly verse legend 'Gregorius vom Stein' by Hartmann von Aue which draws on an even more ancient, anonymous French text. It tells the story of a knight, incestuously begotten, who unknowingly marries his mother. Following a 17-year exile on a rock-fortress, he is chosen by God to become Pope. The film is an expressionist, mostly spontaneous treatment of the story, performed by people from the Northeastern Brazilian state of Ceará, using their own characteristic intonation, their songs and their musical instruments; their religious rites are shown, as well as the natural expression of their moral and religious feelings. Paradoxically, the apparent cultural differences between the two worlds actually unite them and bring out their originality; as they have been handed down over the centuries. This is imparted with far more vigour than any artificial attempt at synthesis would do. This is particularly true of the richness of their language and an awareness, deeply rooted in both cultures of the helplessness and hopelessness of human beings who are not excluded from life by poverty and wretchedness.
The film, shot with the barest technical and financial means (only a small HI-8 camera!), reveals, in fast, colourful, rich and forceful sequences, the sustained commitment of all participants. The spectator is spellbound by the vigour and grace of the performances. There are moments of touching embarrassment in the narrator's performance, and moving violin-playing by a children's orchestra. Added are religious rites and colourful processions, weddings and funerals, passionate expressions of love and plain scenes of childbirth. It is a magnificent round, featuring the Northeasterner's characteristic inclusiveness of their everyday life, in which God, Life, Nature are always united. Bia Lessa has succeeded in making her wish come true: "Quero levar o universo de Mann para onde bouver povo". - "I want to spread Mann's work to all corners of the world."
Frido Mann (English version by Marcia Peredes)
Bia: We have been working with classics of literature for some years now. This time, when we chose to put Thomas Mann's work on stage, we decided to do some research first, which was not how we had worked previously. It is a tradition in our company to come up with a different research method for each work.
When I read Thomas Mann's 'The Holy Sinner' I felt that all stories of the world can be found in it: the story of nature, of man's nature and of God. (...)
Dany: In the beginning of the book there is a part that reads: "the bells toll and it is the spirit of tradition who tolls the bells". This passage suggested we carry out research on traditions and we thought we would find the genesis of these traditions in people, in memory and in individual experience. Our first experience was to set up a theatre workshop in Petropolis in which we worked with housewives, students from the different areas, office boys, bakers... We used to spend the day studying and at night we held the workshop. It was not the kind of workshop we were used to. We were now interested in those people's lives, using Thomas Mann's text as a starting point. On the last day, quite by chance, somebody lent us a camera and Bia recorded those experiences. I had taken some equipment for live music. When we saw the tape later, we found it contained snatches of what might be called the 'spirit of tradition'. (...)
Dany: We wanted to avoid the inhibition caused by a crew carrying large equipment. And we wanted to be alone, just the two of us, brooding over the issues presented by that reality. Anyway, we wouldn't have been able to take a crew, we had no planned itinerary, we didn't know exactly where we were going and what we would find. We had no idea it would turn into a film. We had no intention of shooting a feature length film. We set out to try something, to document. From our point of view, the contents would be what mattered, regardless of the means used to register them.
Bia: The esthetic value was filming the experience itself, which also permeated the existential value. Not that it was the aim of our work. The aim was obviously to spread Thomas Mann to the interior of Ceará and to establish a dialogue. Its value was that of being an experiment.
(Questions by Henri and Violeta Arraes Gervaiseau)
Bia Lessa was born on June 10th, 1958. She has directed numerous plays: 'The Land of Naked Boys' by Graciliano Ramos, 'Study No.1', 'The Brazilian Tragedy' by Sergio Sant'ana, 'Ideas and Repetitions' based on Jorge Luis Borges, 'Essay No.1' based on Dostoyewsky, 'First Scene of the Genesis' by Haroldo de Campo, 'Orlando' by Virginia Woolf, 'The Journey to the Centre of the World' by Jules Verne, 'The Man Without Qualities' by Robert Musil, 'Suor Angelica' by Puccini, 'Don Giovanni' by Mozart. CREDE-MI is her directorial debut.
Dany Roland was born February 9th, 1962. He participated in a number of Bia Lessa's productions: 'Orlando' by Virginia Woolf, 'Journey to the Centre of the World' by Jules Verne, 'The Man Without Qualities' by Robert Musil. CREDE-MI is his first work in film.
© 1997 by International Forum of New Cinema. All rights reserved.