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

by Tambay A. Obenson
March 22, 2012 11:37 AM
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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.

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  • Hate the USA | March 27, 2012 4:14 PMReply

    Get the FUCK out of our country. We don't need your bias US stupidity.

  • Zeech | May 10, 2012 6:15 AM

    spoken like a true psycho devil, it's not your country, it's built on Stolen Labour and Land and you speak Portugues!! Americans reading this need to know about Portugal, it came third in the last World War! yep, along with Germany. Portugal your mother country has a sick Nazi racist streak which it cannot shake off, as the True WASP powers of England don't see them as white (Dagos), Brazil inherited that sickness and practices it in a Caste System, which has stayed in place for sooooooooo long coz you speak Portugues, if you spoke English you would have a generation of Melanine accessing Conscious works by Martine, Malcom, Marley and me! My country suffered Latino Apartheid just like Brazil but a generation of us going to Howard, NYC etc has seen us return back and fired up. Now by the grace of the most High, Spike is gonna help put the spotlight on that Latino Aparthied Plantation Brazil.
    PS: when r u sexist idiots gonna learn that having sex with black skin bodies does not mean you are not racist.
    Dang this is one time I'm glad for USA intervention in our third world region! One Time!

  • Jason Gilmore | March 22, 2012 11:15 PMReply

    I feel em but I'm like when has Spike Lee NOT focused on racial inequalities in his films? People forget that Spike directed MJ's "They Don't Care About Us" in Brazil, which, of course, dealt with racial discrimination. I understand that their concern at face value, but Spike? F. Gary Gray maybe? But Spike? I think it'll be just what the doctor ordered.

  • Donella | March 22, 2012 1:05 PMReply

    NICE!!! I'm also hopeful that Spike Lee will seek thoughts from all strata of Brazilian society and not neglect the favelas. But from what I've seen with his documentation of New Orleans (and Haiti) with If God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise, he will make the effort to create a representative project. But as you say, the funding source may come into play. The projects sounds very exciting already. Will make sure not to miss it.

  • Ash | March 22, 2012 12:19 PMReply

    They do raise valid concerns and this sounds like an interesting project. Maybe I will ask him about this when I go see him speak next week =D.

  • Rajua | March 22, 2012 12:16 PMReply

    Although I'm no expert on Brazilian history, I do know Gilberto Gil was one of the main musical artists of the Tropicalia movement in the 60's. To my understanding the Tropicalia movement challenged a lot of the social and racial inequalities that existed and a lot of the artists involved were also social activist that suffered greatly themselves from standing against the military regime that was in place. Tropicalia was more than just an arts movement and knowing Spike's body work I'm confident that he'll delve into Brazil's social, economic and racial inequalities past and present.

  • Pedro | April 26, 2012 12:31 PM

    dont change so much like that.Im Brazilian who lives in US and in Brazil we still have a lot of problems with the racial issues and he really should try to put some of this issues in his movie.For example,Brazil have 400 congressman and only 35 are Black and Brazil have more than 50 % of black people so i dont think Brazil is good example of racial iguality

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