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Intercom: Revista Brasileira de Ciências da Comunicação

versão impressa ISSN 1809-5844versão On-line ISSN 1980-3508

Intercom, Rev. Bras. Ciênc. Comun. vol.43 no.2 São Paulo maio/ago. 2020  Epub 04-Set-2020

https://doi.org/10.1590/1809-58442020210 

Articles

Documentary production in southern Brazil from the perspective of female filmmakers (1995-2010)

1(Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, Departamento de Ciências da Comunicação, Programa de PósGraduação em Comunicação. Santa Maria – RS, Brasil).

2(Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, Centro de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Curso de Publicidade e Propaganda. Santa Maria – RS, Brasil)

3(Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, Centro de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Curso de Jornalismo. Santa Maria – RS, Brasil).


Abstract

From a universe of more than 74 women documentarians which were identified by document production mapping, in southern Brazil, during the years 1995 to 2010, we selected seven female directors so that, from semi-structured interviews, we would know who these women are and how they think about the production, distribution and exhibition of the film documentary in Brazil. The partial results presented are part of broader research that aimed to characterize contemporary documentary production in southern Brazil, seeking to understand where, what, how and who produces in the region and where and how these films are shown. Most of the female filmmakers interviewed have a degree in Social Communication, where they often got exposed to and involved with cinema and the audiovisual field. It is a consensus among these filmmakers that the main difficulty in producing in the region is linked to financial dependence, but they recognize that without public contribution the history of the documentary would have been different in this period. Thematically only two of these filmmakers focus on women characters and women’s issues, the rest bet on the singular view of the female filmmaker, where their views are marked by the experience of being a woman.

Keywords Documentary; Southern Region; Profile; Female Filmmakers; Film Production

Resumo

De um universo de mais de 74 realizadoras identificadas em mapeamento da produção de documentários no Sul do Brasil, entre os anos de 1995 e 2010, foram selecionadas sete para que, a partir de entrevistas semiestruturadas, pudéssemos compreender quem são e o que pensam essas mulheres sobre a produção, distribuição e exibição do documentário no Brasil. Os resultados parciais apresentados integram uma pesquisa mais ampla que teve como objetivo caracterizar a produção documentária contemporânea do Sul do Brasil, procurando compreender onde, o que, como e quem produz na região e onde e de que forma esses filmes são exibidos. A maioria das cineastas entrevistadas tem formação em cursos de Comunicação Social, nos quais conheceram e se envolveram com o cinema e o audiovisual. É consenso entre as realizadoras que a principal dificuldade em se produzir na região está atrelada à dependência financeira, mas reconhecem que, sem o aporte público, o cenário do documentário teria sido diferente no período estudado. Sobre os temas dos filmes, apenas duas delas assumem uma busca por personagens e assuntos femininos, as demais apostam no olhar particularizado da cineasta, em que seus pontos de vistas são marcados pela experiência de ser mulher.

Palavras-chave Documentário; Região Sul; Perfil; Cineastas Mulheres; Produção Cinematográfica

Resumen

De un universo de más de 74 realizadoras identificadas en mapeamiento de la producción de documentales en el Sur de Brasil, entre los años 1995 y 2010, fueron seleccionadas siete para que, a partir de entrevistas semiestructuradas, pudiéramos comprender quiénes son y qué piensan estas mujeres sobre la producción, distribución y exhibición del documental en Brasil. Los resultados parciales presentados son parte de una investigación más amplia que tuvo como objetivo caracterizar la producción documental contemporánea en el sur de Brasil, buscando comprender dónde, qué, cómo y quién produce en la región y dónde y cómo se muestran estas películas. La mayoría de las cineastas entrevistadas tienen formación en cursos de comunicación social, donde se conocieron y se involucraron con el cine y el audiovisual. Es consenso entre las realizadoras que la principal dificultad en producirse en la región está ligada a la dependencia financiera, pero reconocen que sin el aporte público el escenario del documental habría sido diferente en el período estudiado. En los temas de las películas, sólo dos de ellas asumen una búsqueda por personajes y asuntos femeninos, las demás apuestan en la mirada particularizada de la cineasta, en que sus puntos de vista están marcados por la experiencia de ser mujer.

Palabras clave Documental; Región Sur; Perfil; Cineastas Mujeres; Producción cinematográfica

Introduction

Since the 1960s and 1970s, driven by the cultural and political context of the time, women have been making their mark in the Brazilian cinema work market. The numbers of women who “venture” to make their films in a predominantly male scenario have grown over the years, which reflects a broader and more diffuse spectrum for female representation in cinema, directly opposing a hegemonic representation that, for Shohat and Stam (2006, p. 236) it can be described in the following order: “Women in the Third World - when they are not merely erotic symbols of virgin lands - are marginalized, appearing basically as subordinates endowed with enormous sexual appetite”. On the other hand, experimental cinema and documentary cinema were the loopholes that women found to start their careers in the cinematographic field since there was a greater opening in these cinemas to the issues that were being problematized by the feminist movement of the time (KAPLAN, 1995). But this does not imply that they did not have directors who made fictional films.

In Brazil, before the 1960s, there are records of five women directors who debuted in the production of fiction films, according to a study by Munerato & Oliveira (apud HOLANDA, 2016). They are: Cléo de Verberena (O mistério do dominó negro, 1930), Carmen Santos (Inconfidência mineira, 1948), Gilda de Abreu (O ébrio, 1948; Pinguinho de gente, 1947; and Coração materno, 1951), Maria Basaglia (Macumba na alta, 1958, and O pão que o diabo amassou, 1958) and Carla Civelli (É um caso de família, 1959). Another study, which sought to analyze the evolution of the participation of women in the teams of Brazilian feature films released between 1961 and 2010, found that in all the researched decades the percentage of films directed by women is very low, however, it was found that “[...] from the 1960s to the 1970s, the percentage female participation in the direction more than doubled. Between the 1980s and 1990s, the increase was 2.47 times - the biggest increase in the period studied” (ALVES; ALVES; SILVA, 2011, p. 378). The authors attribute to film schools, advertising, and television the contribution to this growth between the 1980s and 1990s. However, the authors also acknowledge that many of the women filmmakers who started as a director at this time were unable to constitute a career in the following years. In the 2000s, the study reveals more optimistic figures, in the first decade, 162 women-directed feature films (ALVES; ALVES; SILVA, 2011).

Although the figures show the growing strength of women in filmmaking, it is important to note that most of the research referred to above considered the feature film, largely due to the available sources to be consulted. There is an immense universe of short and medium-length productions, both fictional and documentary, that have not been mapped and that could provide us with another reading of this scenario, especially concerning female participation in the Brazilian documentary.

Before the 1960s, we have no records of any documentaries produced by women, whether feature-length, short or medium-length (HOLANDA, 2017). As in the field of the fictional films, women began to gain greater space in documentary production only between the 1960s and 1970s. According to Holanda (2017), 11 documentaries were directed or co-directed by women in the 1960s, but they were all short films; in the following decade, women were responsible for 183 documentaries, of the most diverse formats, and important themes to the feminist movement of the time were treated in this cinema. In this period between 1960 and 1970, according to Holanda´s (2017) mapping, the following filmmakers stood out in documentary production: Helena Solberg, Ana Carolina, Sandra Werneck, Suzana Amaral, Regina Jehá, Kátia Mesel, Eliane Bandeira, Inês Cabral, Iole de Freitas, Eunice Gutman, Lygia Pape, among others. If in this period feminist ideals boosted the female presence in the making of documentaries in Brazil, it was in the 2000s that the number of productions of this type of cinema by women became even more expressive. According to the author, between 2000 and 2009, there were 319 documentary films directed by women in Brazil. Given that it could signal optimism if it weren’t for the fact that prevails in this contextual reality of Brazilian cinema, as highlighted by Holanda (2017, p. 16), that “the production [of the female directors] is still much smaller than the male’s production, who signs twice as many documentaries in the last considered decade”.

In another study, which explores a periodization similar to the previous one (2007-2011), when mapping documentary films from festivals of national importance to the Brazilian cinema circuit, Faria (2013, p. 87) found discrepancies between the production of documentaries directed by women, by the national production and by men:

Analyzing the collected data carefully, we realized that while men expose an average of ten documentaries per year, women show only three. If we think that film production is already naturally complicated in Brazil, due to the lack of investment and the dependence on the national film industry, the situation of the female director is even worse.

The authoress’s research also demonstrated that there is a direct relationship between the production of documentaries and the region with the greatest film production, which attests to the greater predominance of this documentary cinema in the South and Southeast regions.

In 2007, 2008 and 2009, the South appears as the highest documentary production rates, while in 2010 and 2011, this representation is transferred to the Southeast and Midwest, respectively. Thus, we can observe that, despite the importance of the Rio-São Paulo axis in Brazilian audiovisual production, other regions of the country are growing in terms of participation in the film industry

(FARIA, 2013, p. 81).

According to data from this study, it is curious to note that the South region, in the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, stands out in the national production of documentaries, and in the following years, 2010 and 2011, Southeast and Midwest, respectively, led the production. And these same regions show similar performances in terms of male documentary production. The same does not happen with female documentary production, since the regions that stand out in 2009 and 2011 are Northeast and South, respectively. In turn, it is in the South region that there is a greater predominance of documentaries directed by women in the five years surveyed, except for 2009 and 2010, in which the numbers favor northeastern female filmmakers (FARIA, 2013).

The making of documentary is still a predominantly male activity in the southern region of the country, as has been demonstrated in previous studies (TOMAIM, 2015). In the period from 1995 to 2010, in Paraná (PR), 27.14% (19) of the mapped directors are women and 72.85% (51) men; in Rio Grande do Sul (RS), 30.30% (30) women and 69.69% (69) men; in Santa Catarina (SC), 34.24% (25) women and 65.75% (48) men. To understand who the female directors of the region are, what they think about the production, distribution, and exhibition of the documentary in Brazil, what are their motivations, inspirations and how their films are shown and reproduced, we chose to select, of a universe of 74 female directors mapped in the South, names of some of them who could participate in a semi-structured interview, in which their experiences about their production and regional and national production of documentary were identified. 1

During the interviews, the female filmmakers were asked about their interest in the documentary, their perspectives on the documentary scene, both national and regional, the incentive laws and the characteristics of their productions, in addition to talking about the difficulties faced in carrying out their projects. The interviews were transcribed and, then, textually analyzed looking for points of convergence and divergence between the female directors’ thoughts, considering the different States and their scenarios.

Who are they?

Initially, data were mapped in catalogs of foundations, associations, cinematheques, film and video festivals held in the country, and dictionaries of Brazilian films. After this quantitative stage, female filmmakers were selected based on a method in which the data from three categories were established: (1) feature film, (2) awards, and (3) continuous production. From this intersection, a corpus of seven documentary filmmakers from the South region was interviewed: four from Rio Grande do Sul (RS), two from Santa Catarina (SC) and one from Paraná (PR). At first, the number does not seem to be significant if we think that more than 70 female filmmakers working in the southern states of Brazil have been identified. However, the number of respondents by State was determined by the crossing of available data from the three categories indicated above, which, in turn, has a direct relationship with the smallest or largest amount of production in each State. It is believed that the selected female directors represent a diverse sample of women who have worked (and still work) actively in documentary production in their states.

The interviewees were:

Rio Grande do Sul

  • Carolina Berger: screenwriter and director, graduated in Journalism from the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM) in 2001. Herança (2007) earned her the awards for best short documentary, in the Independent National Video category at the XV Gramado Cine Vídeo, best film and best direction at the Santa Maria Competitive Exhibition and VI Santa Maria Video and Cinema Region. Other documentaries by the directorproduced in the period studied: Versions (2005) and Dias no tempo (2010).

  • Flávia Seligman: screenwriter and director, graduated in Journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS) in 1986, Master and PhD in Cinema from USP. Among his productions are the documentaries Um dia no mercado (1998), Ilhas Urbanas (2005) and Certos Olhares (2008).

  • Liliana Sulzbach: graduated in Journalism and Master in Political Science from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). She has been working as a director, screenwriter, and producer since 1992. She debuted in the feature film in 2004 with the documentary O cárcere ea rua, a film awarded as the best documentary in several national and international festivals, among them the 32nd Gramado Festival, the Film Festival Belo Horizonte Documentary and Ethnographic and the El Ojo Cojo International Festival, in Spain. His short documentary film A invenção da infância (2000) was also widely awarded in Brazil and abroad. She worked as an independent producer for Hamburger Kino Kompanie / Hamburg, for M. Schmiedt Produções and for Spiegel TV Germany, where she made several documentaries.

  • Mônica Schmiedt2: studied architecture and history, but she did not finish it; She made productions for theater and music. In 1994, she opened M. Schmiedt Produções, a producer of films for cinema and television. As director and producer, she made three documentaries, Antarctica, o último continente (1997), Doce Brasil Holandês (2010) and Extremo Sul (2004, co-directed with Sylvestre Campe).

Santa Catarina:

  • Kátia Klock: graduated in Journalism from the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), she works as a documentary filmmaker, director, and screenwriter for TV. Her works are shown in festivals, exhibitions, and channels such as SescTV (SP), TV Cultura (SP), TV Brasil, Canal Futura, Canal Curta!, Arte 1, RTP, among others. She also worked as a reporter and editor for RBSTV (SC) and TV Bandeirantes (SP). She is the director of the Latin American documentary portal CurtaDoc, and managing partner of Contraponto. Among her films that were mapped by this research are Mulheres de palavra (2000), Modernos do Sul (2004) and Sem palavras (2009).

  • Márcia Paraíso: journalist and Master in Communication from Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), she is a partner-owner of Plural Filmes, a production company founded in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro, but which since 2004 has also had a headquarters in Florianópolis. Among her productions are the documentaries Profetas da chuva e da esperança (2007), Aquífero Guarani, gigante desconhecido (2008), O Joaquim (2008) and Mulheres da Terra (2010).

Paraná:

  • Lia Marchi: graduated in Public Relations from the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), she was the director of the following documentaries, during the studied period: Tocadores - Brasil Central (2003), Tocadores - Litoral Sul (2003), Divino (2008), Dias de Reis (2009) and Fandango (2010). Researcher, teachere and producer, in 1998 she created the Tocadores project, in the following year she founded Olaria Projetos de Arte e Educação, an institution where she works as an artistic director coordinating the realization of several research and dissemination projects of traditional and popular cultures, especially the Brazil and Portugal.

All female directors, in addition to directing, twork or worked with the production of their own films or of other directors. Carolina Berger is the only filmmaker, among those selected, who represents the production of the countryside of one of the States, in this case, Santa Maria, a city located in the central region of Rio Grande do Sul; the other directors work in the capitals Porto Alegre, Santa Catarina, and Curitiba.

Six of them are trained in Social Communication, with an emphasis mainly on Journalism. This relationship between the female filmmakers and the Communication courses in the South of the country can be explained by the late appearance of higher courses in Cinema and Audiovisual in the region. The first was created only in 1998 by the University of the South of Santa Catarina (UNISUL), in Florianópolis (SC), and started as a qualification in the area of Social Communication, and only in 2006 it took the name of Course in Cinema and Audiovisual Realization. In Rio Grande do Sul, in São Leopoldo, the University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS) pioneered the Audiovisual Direction Course in 2003, followed the following year by the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) in Porto Alegre and the Lutheran University of Brazil (ULBRA) in Canoas with the creation of technological courses in the same area, but all in the metropolitan region of the State. Paraná is the state that has the lowest offer of film courses in the South, the first was raised in 2005, at the State University of Paraná (UNESPAR), located in Curitiba.

Among the interviewees, Mônica Schmiedt is the only one who did not study Communication, beginning her career in the cinematographic medium in the 1980s in Rio Grande do Sul. During graduation, most of them already were inclined towards audiovisual, either through telejournalism, in scientific initiation in research, in workshops or for aworking in production companies. This was the case of Márcia Paraíso. At the time of her graduation in Journalism, she ended up getting involved in the production of papers in the area of Cinema, at her university, and sought experience in production companies in Rio de Janeiro, her hometown, with audiovisualas her first option:

I, in fact, already had an interest in discovering the audiovisual path, but since I am not the daughter of someone rich, my family does not have artists, I think it would be very difficult for me [...], so, I was not encouraged to do a film major. But I majored in journalism.I thought: “Oh! you don’t need a certificate to make cinema. If it didn’t work, I could be a journalist, a critic or a writer”

(PARAÍSO, 2016).

In the interview, Kátia Klock commented on the dilemma it was for her to let go of the rigid form of journalism to start her work in the field of documentary:

So, I had to exercise a lot as a journalist to talk about, research about this ‘truth’ [...] from there, I started trying to let go of that rigid form of journalism. How could I, being a journalist, transfer my characteristics to be a documentary filmmaker?

(KLOCK, 2016).

Several reasons led these women to the documentary. Mônica Schmiedt, who already worked as an audiovisual producer, saw in this type of cinema the possibility of realizing her projects. Carolina Berger liked cinema, journalistic photography, writing and achieved with the documentary production a convergence of it all. The time she spent in Germany, Liliana Sulzbach’s interest in audiovisual increased, so she worked in several productions for cinema and television. Lia Marchi’s contact with cinema began with music, due to her research and documentation project on traditional music, Tocadores.

Production, distribution, and exhibition

In research that we carried out on the documentaries produced in the southern region of Brazil, between 1995 and 2015, we found that a significant portion of this regional production has found in the public financing, through cultural incentive laws, competitions and public notices, its main financier. In States as Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, 37% and 40%, respectively, of the documentaries were produced with public funding. In Santa Catarina, the main source of funding in the period were competitions and public notices, in particular the Cinemateca Catarinense Award Edital from the Catarinense Culture Foundation (FCC) and the Armando Carreirão Award Edital from the Municipal Film Fund (FUNCINE), both from the City Hall Florianópolis. In Rio Grande do Sul, more than half of documentaries financed with public resources had their projects approved by the Rouanet Law and the Audiovisual Law of the Federal Government. However, it must be said that among these productions financed through federal legislation, it is not difficult to find documentaries that also counted simultaneously with State and / or municipal contributions. In Paraná, most of the productions mapped did not use any type of public funding, however it must be said that for the study we had difficulty identifying this type of information in relation to the documentaries produced in the three States. From the data available, it can be seen that 20% (21) of the documentaries made in Paraná during the period studied used resources predominantly from municipal culture incentive laws, especially Curitiba and Londrina. Only one documentary was supported by a federal incentive law.

Most respondents see financial dependence as the main difficulty in producing in the South. Lia Marchi believes that there has been a decentralization, but the demand for resources is greater, so they remain few in the face of the need for filmmakers. Carolina Berger believes that “if there were more executive producers, there would be more possibilities for making it viable” (BERGER, 2011). What there is, according to Liliana Sulzbach, is a geographical difficulty, since being in the south of the country the filmmakers are far from decision making. Mônica Schmiedt recalls that it was more difficult to produce film outside the Rio-São Paulo axis, due to the laboratories and equipment, but she agrees that the financial issue is a complicated point:

There is even a concern to regionalize cinema, the incentive laws with which films are produced, especially the Audiovisual Law, have this characteristic, it allows the regionalization of production, of course, that most of the Brazilian money is in Rio de Janeiro and in São Paulo, so we have to run to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo to get that money

(SCHMIEDT, 2011).

About producing documentaries outside the Rio-São Paulo axis, Kátia Klock emphasized that the main issue involves a regionalized cultural policy. According to the female filmmaker, the scenario for the Santa Catarina documentary began to change when the State directors organized themselves politically, such as having gained representation on the national board of ABD (Brazilian Association of Documentary Filmmakers). For her, the ideal would be that borders did not exist and that films could be made in partnership with other States, to be shown in Brazil and abroad. And in this case, festivals would play a very important role. They are already the main showcases of documentary cinema produced in southern Brazil, from 1995 to 2010, 58% of Santa Catarina documentaries had the festival as their main exhibition window; in PR, 59%; and, in RS, 36%, as demonstrated in previous work (TOMAIM, 2015). Regional reality that finds resonance in other studies, such as those dedicated to understanding the Brazilian documentary market in the years 2000 to 2009 (TRINDADE, 2014). Still, regarding this problem faced by the documentary produced in the region, the director of Paraná, Lia Marchi agrees that there is a lack of communication between filmmakers in the south of the country, “we are very focused on our daily lives and have little opportunity to meet people, to meet other work” (MARCHI, 2016).

But for Márcia Paraíso,who chose Florianópolis as her workplace, the prejudice that cinema is not produced in Brazil, even in capitals outside the axis, has always existed. She recalls that in 2000, when she moved to SC, her friends sentenced: “She is going to Floripa, to Santa Catarina, she will stop producing”. It was the opposite, according to the directors, it is stimulating to produce, to strive for Santa Catarina to have greater national recognition.

While partnerships between States are few and prejudices remain about this regional production, public support for films appears to many of the interviewees as an inevitable solution. For Klock, without incentive laws the reality would be different, “we would not have produced almost anything”. According to her, in addition to the stimulus provoked by the incentive laws mechanism, the possibilities created from the Audiovisual Sectoral Fund expanded Brazilian cinematographic production, which is even more attractive to foreign filmmakers looking for co-productions: “[...] our “hermanos”, here, everyone wants to co-produce with us because they think we have a lot of money here” (KLOCK, 2016). Marchi recognizes that public funding for Brazilian audiovisual productions is essential, fostering national culture, but she attests that there is a vicious cycle from which the director needs to escape:

I think this idea of law is very difficult because cultural notices, in general, ended up creating a vicious cycle. We use it a lot and it is essential that they exist, I think the State has to give its effective contribution, in subsidizing research, creation, development, art and culture in a country. Without these mechanisms, we would not have advanced, both qualitatively and quantitatively in Brazilian production. But I believe that they cannot be seen by anyone, neither by the State, nor by civil society, nor by the professional class of art as the only option

(MARCHI, 2016).

Although the quantitative research points to the existence of a greater number of female filmmakers in SC (34%) concerning o the other two states in the southern region of the country, of the 25 documentary female filmmakers from Santa Catarina cataloged, 95% of them produced only a single film over 15 years. This data was presented to representatives from Santa Catarina in an interview. Márcia Paraíso believes that this data is because “the biggest challenge for women, as an audiovisual director, as a professional in general, not only as an audiovisual director, is to reconcile the multiplicity of tasks that we have” (PARAÍSO, 2016). Balancing her career as a documentary filmmaker, travel and family, according to the director, ends up causing a slower pace of production. The lack of career stability is a factor that can also influence this scenario, acknowledges the director.

However, Kátia Klock, like Márcia, believes that there is no male prevalence in the area. Klock sees a growing production of young directors, not only in the direction but also acting in photography and production in the State of SC. She also points out that there are many people who navigate between documentary and fiction and this may have influenced this lack of continuity in the production of Santa Catarina female filmmakers mapped in the research.

In Paraná, the phenomenon is repeated, out of a universe of 19 female filmmakers mapped, only Lia Marchi presents a continuous production with five films in the studied period, while the others identified made only one film. Marchi was invited to reflect on this aspect of the Paraná documentary scene and acknowledged that

Being in charge of a film team is a big responsibility. In general, a good part of the team is traditionally composed of men, mainly because of the heavy-duty, electrical, machinery, all that part. Not that there are no women working, but in fact, it is a smaller number. So, maybe there is some difficulty in accepting a woman in charge

(MARCHI, 2016).

But there is also the other side, when the doubt about the work of the female filmmaker comes from the characters of the documentary themselves, from those portrayed:

[...] in our case [women], for example, always for a long time in my career as a researcher, I traveled a lot and often alone. It was always a surprise for rural society, which ends up being more conservative and which in a way is more patriarchal. I won’t even go into the issue of sexist or not, but more patriarchal [...]. I remember people’s faces: “What is this girl doing here?” “Where did it come from?” It was always a previous question: “But why do you want to know this?”

(MARCHI, 2016).

The phenomenon is a little different in Rio Grande do Sul, the female filmmakers have a greater presence in the state’s audiovisual scene. Despite the predominance of men in the making of films, women show a more continuous production in terms of proportional to men. While of a universe of 69 directors, only 23.18% (16) produced more than one documentary in the 15-year period, among the mapped female directors from RS, 33.33% (10) produced two to ten films in the same period. And their films have received State and national recognition since 40% of the award-winning documentaries in Rio Grande do Sul were made by women.

What or who do they film?

If in the 1960s and 1970s, the themes that prevailed among Brazilian documentary female filmmakers were those related to the ideals of feminism, very much in function of the political and cultural context of the time, the films made by the interviewed female filmmakers address themes quite different, but the thematic choice of all is guided by your personal preferences. What is noticeable among the interviewed women directors and their films, and even according to another study that sought to identify the main themes of Brazilian documentaries produced by women between the years 2007 and 2011, is that despite the recurring female themes in the films directed by women, in documentary cinema these themes have not been the priority of Brazilian female filmmakers. For feminine themes, we can consider what is popularly identified as issues of the universe of women, such as motherhood, childhood, sexuality, and gender. According to Faria, “We can see that, contrary to what is imagined, women are talking more about themes related to the public sphere, from which they were excluded for a long time, than about the sphere of intimacy” (FARIA, 2013, p. 103), which demonstrates that the documentary has been an important tool for the feminist theory agenda, especially with regard to the public-private relationship.

Kátia Klock presents in her films a concern with the preservation of memory and the themes that interest her most are those related to women. “She spoke of a woman, [...] any feminine issue is always around me” (KLOCK, 2016). Márcia Paraíso since college was linked to agrarian and gender issues since her paper was about the importance of women in the Landless Movement (MST) in the resistance to get the land. She believes that this is a topic that never ends:

I think the documentary filmmaker, has a theme and is recurring, they never run out, they always stay there [...] surrounding that theme. For example, even Visceral Brasil, which is this series about root music, is root music, from masters and root groups. But, where are they? Their source is the countryside as well. So, I think it’s a recurring theme for me because I’m not a very urban person

(PARAÍSO, 2016).

Lia Marchi, on the other hand, commented that “there are themes that are chosen and I think there is also the reverse process, there are themes that choose us” (MARCHI, 2016). The themes of his films are generally linked to his research with the universe of tradition, of popular cultures, but he believes that interests will change over time.

Although I think they have very central themes in my research, [...] things are changing, right? The healers’ own film is a mark of that, it is a theme a little out of the usual of the music, which is something I already do a lot. And it arose for several reasons, for interests in telling the stories of social movements, women’s organizations, the issue of affection, healing, the issue of ecology, plants

(MARCHI, 2016).

Liliana Sulzbach is the only documentary filmmaker from Rio Grande do Sul, among the interviewees, who dedicated herself, in her ”A Invenção da Infância”, to a feminine theme. But the director prefers to recognize that her work is linked to a social theme, rather than reflecting a “feminine look” (SULZBACH, 2011). For Flávia Seligman, her generation, which today is between 40 and 50 years old, has a militant look and this, according to her, reflects in her production, which has a vision of searching and analyzing the past. Carolina Berger believes that her films diverge a little from the current Brazilian documentary scene, “they are slower films, they do not deal with major events, they are not major conflicts, nor are they controversial topics” (BERGER, 2011). For Monica Schmiedt, the themes of her films are directly related to her story, they are subjects in which the director has a personal interest:

For a long time, I was involved in this mountain, ice environment, I thought it was a very peculiar environment, which allowed me a series of approaches from a human point of view [...]. It was a topic that interested me, but for me, that topic is drained [...]. There is no ideological line, there is no thematic line in the films I make, they are punctual subjects that interest me, which I think is relevant to the moment in which we live

(SCHMIEDT, 2011).

When asked about the existence of a “look feminine” in the documentary, three of the four filmmakers from Rio Grande do Sul do not believe there is a “female look” in the cinema they make. Flávia Seligman recognizes that this division between the feminine and masculine gaze is very limiting, preferring the idea of a contemporary gaze to think about cinema. Also, for her “we have good journalism in Rio Grande do Sul and this ends up reflecting on a good documentary production” (SELIGMAN, 2011). For Liliana Sulzbach, it is likely that the female presence in the RS documentary is due to the fact that in the State there is a tradition of audiovisual production being led by women, which leads them to better understand the paths for the production of their films. For Mônica Schmiedt, what exists is “an individual look, the look of the creator”. However, as a woman, as a matter of life experience, the female filmmaker admits that her view as a director has a specific point of view. As for Carolina Berger “There is a question of feminine sensitivity and this is very present in the works, the woman has the particularity of working with a certain lightness and of respecting the other in this meeting”. However, it seems that the “female look” does not influence their aesthetic choices, because “it goes beyond the issue of being a woman, it is linked to the universe of each one” (BERGER, 2011).

Final considerations

It is a consensus among the female filmmakers that the main difficulty in producing in the region is linked to financial dependence, but they recognize that without the contribution of incentive law mechanisms, whether federal or state, as well as the possibilities created from the Audiovisual Sectoral Fund, the documentary scenario in southern Brazil would have been different in the studied period.. There appears in her speeches a desire for a greater partnership between the directors of the State, even to strengthen the cinematographic field and to combat the prejudice that still exists about this regional production. The biggest challenge today is in the understanding of the State, civil society and the filmmakers themselves that public funding is not the only option, that it is necessary to expand the sources of resources to keep production stable in the region. And this aspect becomes even more essential if we consider that the documentary is not a type of genuinely commercial work. But this does not imply giving up cultural policies that favor even more the regionalization of Brazilian cinematographic production, with regard to the production-exhibition-distribution tripod. It is necessary that these regional productions find other mechanisms, not only festivals, to diversify their circulation, which can be exhibited in commercial circuits beyond their regional borders, allowing for a greater cultural exchange between Brazilian states.

A recent study (ALVES; ALVES; SILVA, 2011) has demonstrated the contribution of film schools in Brazil to the growth in the number of women working in the direction of films, or in other sectors of the audiovisual production chain. In the case of the seven female filmmakers selected for interviews, it is interesting to note that six of them are trained in the area of Social Communication, with an emphasis mainly on Journalism, and the seventh female directors had her cinematographic training in the film sets in which she acted. Given that, as already explained, it has a direct impact on the late appearance of higher education courses in Cinema and Audiovisual in the region, the first of which was only created in the late 1990s, and currently, there is a greater concentration of courses in Rio Grande do Sul, obviously prioritizing the capital Porto Alegre and the metropolitan region.

If we expand the study to analyze the profiles of the documentary female filmmakers interviewed for the project, which add up to 19 directors (between men and women), we will see that it is still too early to evaluate the contributions of Cinema and Audiovisual courses of the region in this production from 1995 to 2010. Most of the interviewed filmmakers from Rio Grande do Sul had their first contact with cinema and documentary at the university, while studying Journalism (primarily), from workshops, courses, groups and production laboratories, sessions of film club, etc. In Santa Catarina, on the other hand, only 30% of the interviewed documentary filmmakers have basic training in the Journalism Course, with one or the other initially working in local television news and only later embracing documentary filmmaking, as was the case with Kátia Klock. Half of the selected directors in Paraná, on the other hand, have a degree in a Communication course, varying between Public Relations and Journalism. Among all the interviewees, we identified three directors (no women), by State, who have a degree in Cinema, but most of them went to study outside Brazil in countries like Cuba, the United States, Israel, and Denmark. A fifth director is a graduate of the Cinema Course at ECA / USP and has a production company in Florianópolis where he works since the end of the 1990s. Only one of the directors we interviewed is trained in cinema at a school in his own State, in this case, graduated in Cinema and Audiovisual major at UNESPAR, which operates in Curitiba.

It should be noted that the number of interviewees is small if we consider the universe of more than 70 female filmmakers mapped by the research, which does not allow us to generalize. On the other hand, it is believed that these reflect a specific aspect of this mapped scenario since the interviewees are among those who not only made short and medium-length films, but also feature films, had their films awarded and recognized in important festivals in Brazil and the world, circulating this regional production, and mainly these directors presented a continuous production during the first 15 years after what was conventionally called “retake” of Brazilian cinema.

In the opinion of the female filmmakers, the difficulties faced by women in the cinematographic market are the same as in other areas, but reconciling family and work is aggravated in the cinema considering that the production of a film demands a lot of time and resources, distance from the family, in addition to the career not providing financial stability and security, making the continuity of women in audiovisual activities even more difficult. However, despite the data pointing to the making-of documentary as an activity still predominantly male in the southern region of Brazil, in general, the interviewees do not see that this numerical predominance reflects a sexism in the audiovisual sector in their States, on the contrary, they are optimistic as to the number of young female filmmakers who have emerged in recent years.

Optimism that is confirmed by data from the research by Faria (2013) that attests that in the years 2007, 2008 and 2011 the South of Brazil is the region that presents the largest number of documentaries directed by women in five years. It was also in 2008 (as well as in 2005) that the peaks in documentary productions of the three states occurred, and, in turn, there is a relationship between these productive peaks and the public funding of this regional production, whether from federal, state legislation or municipal, or through contests and notices.

However, when we deepen the analysis regarding the source of sponsorship of the documentaries and the genre of the filmmakers, there is a certain balance in public funding for documentary projects designed by men and women; in RS, there were 22 films by directors and 17 by directors, over a 15-year period; in SC, 17 to 12; only in Paraná there is a strong imbalance, in which of 23 documentaries with public support, only three of produced by women3.

If there is still (as there is) a greater distrust of women in the direction or command of a film and audiovisual team, the scenario does not change only with the increase in the number of women in front of the films. It is necessary to give conditions so that they can develop a more solid career in audiovisual, that they can maintain production without major interruptions, as it happens in Rio Grande do Sul, where the mapped female directors present a more continuous production in proportional terms to the gauchos’ documentary filmmakers, in the period studied. Even though they are a minority in the state, these female filmmakers were also responsible for documentaries that won state and national recognition.

Finally, on the themes of the films, only two female directors among the interviewees undertake a search for characters and feminine themes, the others bet on a particular look, in which their points of view are marked by the experience of being a woman. The fact that filmmakers in the South of Brazil prioritize public affairs points to a documentary cinema that can reveal a lot about the identities of women in contemporary society, as well as their political gestures through audiovisual.

REFERENCES

ALVES, P.; ALVES, J. E. D.; SILVA, D. B. N. Mulheres no Cinema Brasileiro. Caderno Espaço Feminino, Uberlândia/MG, UFU, v. 24, n. 2, p. 365-394, jul./dez. 2011. [ Links ]

FARIA, M. S. A participação feminina na direção do cinema documentário brasileiro. 2013. Dissertação. Programa Multidisciplinar de Pós-Graduação em Cultura e Sociedade, Instituto de Humanidades, Artes e Ciências da Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador. [ Links ]

HOLANDA, K. Da história das mulheres ao cinema brasileiro de autoria feminina. Revista Famecos, PUCRS, Porto Alegre, v. 24, n. 1, p. 1-18, 2017. [ Links ]

HOLANDA, K. Cinema (documentário) e feminismo no Brasil. In: CORSEUIL, Anelise R; NÚÑEZ, F.; HOLANDA, K. Cinema e América Latina: estética e culturalidade. Editora SOCINE, 2016, p. 96-111. [ Links ]

HOLANDA, K. Documentaristas brasileiras e as vozes feminina e masculina. Revista Significação, USP, v. 42, n. 44, p. 339-358, 2015. [ Links ]

KAPLAN, E. A. A Mulher e o Cinema: os dois lados da câmera. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 1995. [ Links ]

SHOHAT, E.; STAM, R. Crítica da imagem eurocêntrica: multiculturalismo e representação. São Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2006. [ Links ]

TOMAIM, C. S. A retomada do documentário no Sul do Brasil: apontamentos sobre a produção de 1995 a 2010. Eptic (UFS), v. 17, p. 226-245, 2015. [ Links ]

TRINDADE, T. N. Documentário e mercado no Brasil: da produção à sala de cinema. São Paulo: Alameda, 2014. [ Links ]

REFERENCES

BERGER, Carolina. Projeto mapeamento do documentário gaúcho (1995-2010). [Entrevista concedida a] Cássio dos Santos Tomaim e Marciane Hences. Santa Maria (RS), jun. 2011. [ Links ]

KLOCK, Kátia. Projeto mapeamento do documentário do sul do Brasil (1995-2010). [Entrevista concedida a] Cássio dos Santos Tomaim. Florianópolis (SC), 21 jul. 2016. [ Links ]

MARCHi, Lia. Projeto mapeamento do documentário do sul do Brasil (1995-2010). [Entrevista concedida a] Cássio dos Santos Tomaim. Curitiba (PR), 25 jul. 2016. [ Links ]

PARAÍSO, Márcia. Projeto mapeamento do documentário do sul do Brasil (1995-2010). [Entrevista concedida a] Cássio dos Santos Tomaim. Florianópolis (SC), 21 jul. 2016. [ Links ]

SELIGMAN, Flávia. Projeto mapeamento do documentário gaúcho (1995-2010). [Entrevista concedida a] Josafá Lucas Rohde. Porto Alegre (RS), 03 nov. 2011. [ Links ]

SCHMIEDT, Mônica. Projeto mapeamento do documentário gaúcho (1995-2010). [Entrevista concedida a] Marília Dalenogare. Porto Alegre (RS), 25 mar. 2012. [ Links ]

SULZBACH, Liliana. Projeto mapeamento do documentário gaúcho (1995-2010). [Entrevista concedida a] Marciane Hences. Porto Alegre (RS), maio. 2011. [ Links ]

1The results presented in this study are part of a broader research regarding aspects of documentary production in southern Brazil entitled “Documentary in southern Brazil: stories, identities and aesthetic boundaries between cinema and television”, with the help of CNPq via public notice MCTI/CNPq/MEC/CAPES No. 43/2013.

2Mônica Schmiedt gave an interview to this research in 2011. The female filmmaker passed away in March 2016.

3It is important to highlight that in the collection of these data, documentaries were identified in which the direction is mixed, that is, who signs is a man and a woman. In this case, these films were not counted, considering that including them in the sample would not significantly change the results (PR: 01; SC: 03 and RS: 03).

Received: September 17, 2018; Accepted: March 05, 2020

Professor of the Postgraduate Program in Communication at the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM). PhD in History from UNESP/Franca (2008). He is author of the books “Documentário, sabe o que é?” (Paco Editorial, 2016), “Documentário e o Brasil na Segunda Guerra Mundial: o antimilitarismo e o anticomunismo como matrizes sensíveis” (INTERMEIOS & FAPESP, 2014) and “Janela da Alma: cinejornal e Estado Novo - fragmentos de um discurso totalitário” (ANNABLUME & FAPESP, 2006). E-mail: tomaim78@gmail.com.

Bachelor in Advertising at the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM). She worked as a researcher in the project “Documentary in Southern Brazil: histories, identities and aesthetic boundaries between cinema and television”. E-mail: frnuneslima@gmail.com.

Undergraduate student in Journalism from the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM). She worked as a researcher in the project “Documentary in Southern Brazil: histories, identities and aesthetic boundaries between cinema and television”. E-mail: naiady@live.com.

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