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Spike Lee Heading To Brazil To Shoot Doc On Country's Economic Advances On Global Stage; Afro Brazilians Concerned

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act March 22, 2012 at 11:37AM

Well how about that? Overall, his documentaries have been strong, so I'm looking forward to seeing what develops here.
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Spike Lee

Well how about that? Overall, his documentaries have been strong, so I'm looking forward to seeing what develops here.

Our man Spike Lee is reportedly heading to Brazil next month to shoot a documentary titled Go Brazil GO!, which will focus on the rise of that country on the international scene, as one of the BRIC countries, an acronym that refers to Brazil, Russia, India and China, which are all deemed to be newly advancing economically, gradually shifting global economic power away from the so-called long-dominating developed G7 economies. It is estimated that BRIC economies will overtake G7 economies by 2027, as the balance of power shifts.

In the last year, the GDP (gross domestic producers) Brazil overtook both France and the UK, making it the world's 6th largest economy.

To be included in the documentary are interviews Spike will have with former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and artists like Gilberto Gil, Jorge Ben Jor, Chico Buarque and soccer icon Pele.

It's not clear whether this is a genuine feature documentary, or will be more akin to a filmed travel brochure for the country to maybe attract investors and more tourism. Some Brazilian bloggers, as I learned, aren't too thrilled with the project, based on what's been revealed thus far; for example, over at GATAS NEGRAS BRASILEIRAS, concern is expressed for the specific types of people Spike Lee will be interviewing, and hope that Spike will also focus on the country's social and racial inequities where Afro Brazilians are concerned; to wit:

Although Lee’s desire to focus his latest “joint” in the land of Samba, soccer and sun is a definite sign that Brazil is gaining new exposure on the world stage, when I looked at the list of personalities that Lee would feature in his new documentary, I must admit I was a little disappointed. Upon arriving in Brazil in late April, Lee will meet with some of Brazil’s most popular public figures; people like former president Lula da Silva, current president Dilma Rousseff, musicians Jorge Ben, Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento and Chico Buarque as well as legendary soccer superstar Pelé. This is not to say that these people don’t deserve to be featured in a documentary about Latin America’s largest, most populous nation.

My thing is, Lee has built his career on approaching controversial topics such as race, interracial relationships, the legendary, if often misunderstood human rights icon Malcolm X, and the horrific circumstances surrounding the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

If Spike should arrive to the Brazilian shores and not touch on the vast social and racial inequalities of this new player on the world stage, he may miss a golden opportunity to bring an international spotlight to the situation of Afro-Brazilians and the disdain and invisibility to which they are subjected by the Brazilian media.

Yes, the Brazilian economy is now beginning to live up to the country’s nickname of “The Country of the Future”, but when one turns on a television station, takes a look at the magazine stands, model runways and the halls of the higher education, the Senate and House of Deputies, it won’t be hard to see which color skin color the country clearly favors.

While it is true that musicians Ben, Nascimento and Gil as well as the legendary Pelé are all black, Lee should seek Afro-Brazilians who knee deep in the struggle. In fact, given his record on the issue of race, if Lee were to speak to Pelé, he may come away thinking the country is a “Racial Democracy”, the myth that was killed by the Movimento Negro many years ago. There are a lot of influential and important Afro-Brazilian human and civil rights leaders, NGOs and stars that deserve Mr. Lee’s attention. If persons of African descent can’t depend on prominent African descendants to cover the story that the mainstream ignores, who can they depend on?

Well then... all relevant concerns, especially if you've been a long-time reader of S&A; so Spike take heed homie!! :) 

But at this point, all we can do is sit and wait to see what comes of this; I haven't read any commentary from Spike on the project; unless I just missed one of his Twitter explosions; and I'd love to know what his goal is specifically with the documentary, and whether he's at all aware of some of the concerns being expressed by Afro Brazilians.

I also wonder how the whole project came together and who's funding it; if it's being funded by the Brazilian government, then you know damn well it'll likely be a puff piece; or as I said earlier, a filmed travel brochure meant to paint a flattering portrait of the country.

But really, with a title like Go Brazil, GO!, one shouldn't expect anything but.

I'll keep digging for info on this; I'll also send Spike and 40 Acres messages about it and if I get any responses, I'll share here.

This article is related to: Spike Lee


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