Antônio Pitanga in Casa de Antiguidades, selected by the Cannes Film Festival
Antônio Pitanga in House of Antiquities. Photo: Carlos Eduardo Carvalho/ Publicity.

Brazilian film with Antônio Pitanga, Antiques House was one of the 56 feature films selected this year by the Cannes Film Festival. The work tells the story of Cristovam, a black worker from a dairy factory transferred to work in a fictional city of Austrian colonization in southern Brazil. The film – flirting with folkloric and using the memories brought by the title's house – touches on issues of even greater relevance today, such as racism and political conservatism; part of the scenes of the feature were filmed in a city in Santa Catarina that had strong support from the then presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, for example.

Antônio Pitanga in House of Antiquities. Photo: Carlos Eduardo Carvalho/ Publicity.

About the work, director and screenwriter João Paulo Miranda stated that “the film has the protagonism of Antônio Pitanga, over 80 years old, playing a man who came from the countryside of Goiás and who will violently face an ultra conservative group in the south of the country. Brazil. This will guide you into a deep and complex black hole; that mirrors a Brazil that is lost in time, with the face of the 70s”. And he adds: “For me it is necessary to assume the avant-garde spirit and use all my strength for a language worthy of the great names of cinema”.

The Cannes Film Festival, which would take place from May 12 to 23 with a jury chaired by American director Spike Lee, canceled its 2020 edition due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The non-extension comes from a decision by the organization to respect the occurrence of cinematic events closer to the end of the year, such as Venice and Toronto. Still, the 56 selected films are entitled to bear their official seal of approval, even if they haven't actually competed for awards like the Palme d'Or.

The artistic director of Cannes, Thierry Frémaux, according to RFI, commented on the situation of cinema in Brazil and expressed fear for the future of the Cinematheque, saying that “Brazil is doing badly, Brazilian cinema is doing badly” and reiterating that “Cinemateca is in great difficulty”. The institution takes care of the country's visual collection and is in danger of stopping due to lack of transmitted resources. A petition, "Brazilian Cinematheque asks for help”, was created on May 15 to gather signatures that will be transmitted to the federal government through the Audiovisual Secretariat, led by screenwriter Heber Trigueiro. Important names for Brazilian culture have already signed the petition, such as Walter Salles, Jean-Claude Bernardet, Ricardo Ohtake, Marcio Seligmann-Silva e Luis Perez-Oramas.

Director Steve McQueen
Director Steve McQueen. Photo: BBC.

In addition to a greater female presence at the festival and the inclusion of young directors among those selected, it is also notable that not one, but two works by award-winning British director Steve McQueen were chosen. Rock Lovers e Mangrove integrate Small Ax, his five-part anthology of the West Indian community in London in the late 1960s through the 1980s. The title comes from a proverb of African origin, which resonates primarily in the Caribbean: “If you are the great tree, we are the little axe”. The saying was popularized in 1973 by Bob Marley.

In a statement to Variety, McQueen said the films were dedicated to George Floyd and "all other black people who have been murdered because of who they are, in the United States, the United Kingdom or elsewhere." please note that Small Ax was a commission made by the BBC, a public corporation in England that employs almost 19 people and counts on a contribution from a license fee that is paid by all households that have televisions.

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