Daniel Leão. amérikari. Filmstill, 2015

Visual Essay: amérikari

Daniel Leão

from the june protests to cariri sertão, the world ended many times.1

at brazil central by st. john baptist cemetery with rotting papaya across the street where blind jugglers chase love – far away el niño was taking, quizás, la huaca del sol y de la luna [perhaps, the pyramids of the sun and the moon].2

in the turmoil glauber, graciliano, guimarães were abstract entities; gil sang at the end of everything; coutinho was dead; resnais was dead; botafogo were out of the liberators.3

when I arrived in cariri the currents were heading south; the birds were flying in the interior of são paulo; orion was chasing the sisters of calypso; the rosebush were without roses; the world was on edge.

The film documentarian Daniel Leão was part of the research group for the Publicness in Art project that took place from May 14–18, 2014 in Brazil’s northeastern cities of Juazeiro do Norte and Crato and their surroundings. The project conducted field research and organized a seminar in collaboration with local organizations and individuals between artists, artisans, poets, masters of popular festivals (reisado), and researchers. Leão’s video essay creates a poetic montage of his impressions and a special homage to the region and the people he met. The video is approximately 10 minutes in duration. While there are no subtitles, much of the video can be appreciated as a purely visual essay. Many thanks to all involved and especially to Pablo Lerner for the music.

for the boy herding cars in front of the airport that dreams of being a police officer, for the wood chips from assaré (northeastern region of Brazil), for the ink on Stênio’s hands, for the yellow and red mirrored dance of the terreirada (northeastern festival), for the voice of the poet of cordel, for the burger prepared by the girl queen of the reisado (popular folk festival), for the man who imitates birds in the public market, for the italian priest against mst (movimento sem terra/landless workers movement) and in favor of peasant leagues, for the stone of the peasant leagues, for the children struggling to recite their our-fathers, for the rose petals gathered on the tombstone of the “padim” (Juazeiro’s influential priest Padre Cícero) and delivered to the last catholic in the church, for the brazilian northeastern music of the argentine living in bulgaria, for the food eaten at the foot of padre cícero’s monumental feet, for the boys flying a kite in a kitchen with a clothesline, for the bacamarteiros (practitioners of a traditional Sertão collective sport with firearms) that waited for us to play, for reminding me of corisco in the land of sun, for the eyes of friends filled with tears, for the motorbike-filled streets, for coffee without sugar, for the girl who uses all stars and listens to the smiths, for the guy who makes flutes and has a piercing stare and a broken heart, for the sacred room from são gonçalo, for the swearwords of the padim when he learned of lampião’s (folk hero) arrival in juazeiro, for the abundant tables, for the illiterate at the table of academics, for maria do horto (of the garden), for the crowded bus, for the empty bus reminiscent of kieslowski, for compartrilhar (neologism of compartilhar [share] and trilhar [make a trail]), for the peacock, for there not being a crisis in culture, for clear nights, for the memories of the forgotten, for the affection and good humor, for the cariri skies, for the yellow wallet, for the six-year-old girl’s “Asa branca” (White Wing, a famous song by Brazilian folk musician Luiz Gonzaga), for the heart-to-heart conversations, I am full of thanks to you all.
1 References: June 2013 street protests that took place throughout Brazil and the Sertão of Cariri, literally the hinterlands/deserts of Cariri in the northeast of Brazil.

2 References: Rio de Janeiro’s infamous train station called “Central Brasil” and the Peruvian Sun and Moon pyramids

3 References: Brazilian film director Glauber Rocha, authors Graciliano Ramos and Guimarães Rosa, musician Gilberto Gil; and another important Brazilian filmmaker Eduardo Coutinho killed in February 2014, French film director Alain Resnais who died in March of 2014, and the Rio de Janeiro Botafogo soccer team, just out of the Latin American Liberators football championship, all before the trip to Cariri in May 2014.