When Death Helps Life ‘portrays daily racism

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There is a scene of M8 – When Death Helps Life in which Mariana Nunes, the mother, argues with her son. The boy is studying medicine, is being bullied at the university. She respects his silence, but every day he appears with a mark of violence on his body. Mariana puts her hand on her waist and speaks louder – “Pay attention, boy! There’s a black woman talking here! ” Director Jeferson De gets emotional. “I had never mentioned this to Mariana, but when my mother argued with her children, she also put her hand on her waist and let it be seen. It was like traveling back in time looking at Mariana. ”

M8 it premiered at the Rio Festival in 2019. It was expected to open in March, or April, but there was a pandemic and only now, on December 3, did the film hit the screens in Brazil. M8 was born out of an order. Jeferson received a call from Migdal producer Iafa Britz, saying he had a project for him. Interested? It was Salomão Polakiewicz’s book about the black student, a fellow at the Faculty of Medicine, who is obsessed with the corpse of another young man – black like him – who shreds in anatomy classes. “I immediately became interested in the subject, but I introduced some changes that may have gone unnoticed, but were very important to me. Instead of a fellow, Juan Paiva (who plays the role) is a shareholder. For black people it makes a huge difference. In the book, intermediation with the corpse is done by the Catholic religion, and I introduced the Afro rites, candomblé. ”

Jeferson De reflects on the uniqueness of the experience of this film. Maurício / Juan Paiva is the only black man in his class. The colleague, who becomes a boyfriend, asks – “Don’t you think it’s strange that there is only me here in black? I have more to do with the bodies in the anatomy class than with my colleagues. ” And Ailton Graça, the morgue employee – “Don’t get in there, boy. It can become a path of no return ”. Maurício finds mothers on the street protesting against the disappearance of black children. Bury the M8 it becomes a necessity for him. The act itself will transform the anonymous corpse into an emblem of all young blacks who are victims of slaughter – in Rio, Brazil.

A safety net is formed around Mauritius – his girlfriend, his mother, the secretary, the morgue bedel, the policeman himself (Rocco Pitanga). Brutally, he advises – “Don’t give up in this rich neighborhood”. Jeferson shivers. “I filmed the policeman knocking Maurice down and putting his leg around his neck before the image of George Floyd being choked hit the world. The same image of João Alberto Silveira Freitas, beaten to death by security guards at Carrefour, in Rio Grande do Sul. It is sad to see, but the film has gained more relevance than ever. ‘Black lives matter’ is not a simple import of causes or tragedies of others. Only the president and his deputy insist on denialism. Yes, there is racism in Brazil, and it is structural. ”

It has been 17 years since Jeferson De made the short documentary Carolina, with Zezé Motta as the writer Carolina Maria de Jesus, author of the book Dump Room, which became a best seller around 1960. Jeferson launched the Dogma Feijoada movement and started talking about blackness in the country. Black representation. It had its godmothers – Zezé, Léa Garcia, now Mariana Nunes. “She is an extraordinary actress, a power. Where she appears, Mariana is present. ” M8, the corpse of the film, is such a strong character that, even without speaking, Lázaro Ramos made it known that he would like to play the character.

It didn’t work – the question of anonymity was necessary. “Raphael Logam did it and even he is no longer anonymous (laughs). Raphael was twice nominated for an International Emmy for the series Impure. He is an actor who has gained much and deserved evidence. ” In these almost 20 years of career, Jeferson De has made films like Bróder, Or Amulet e Chasing. The Amulet marks his foray into gender cinema, and terror nourishes the phantasmagoria of M8. Chasing circulated through festivals, but did not go to theaters. Jeferson works on transforming the film with Ailton Graça in series. He loves the actor – “Ailton always puts a little humor even in the heaviest drama, and I like that.” And, of course, Juan Paiva. Handsome and talented, the boy has a resume. Made Ailton Graça’s son in the soap opera Totally awesome, co-written by a film director, Rosane Svartman. It can be seen in the Malhação season that is on the air, and in the series As Five. His scenes with Mariana Nunes are worthy of anthology. “Both, mother and son, work in the health area. I created these characters before the covid. Time stressed their importance. I am very happy with my film ”, says Jeferson.

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