July 21, 2016 - 6:00 pm
Segal Theatre (The Graduate Center, CUNY)
Bye Bye Brazil is a muted and low-key ensemble drama about a shabby circus crawling from small town to small town through the Brazilian backwaters. The Caravana Rolidei rolls into town with the Gypsy Lord at the mike: he does magic tricks, the erotic Salomé dances, and the mute Swallow performs feats of strength. A young accordion player is completely enamored of Salomé, and he begs to come along. The Gypsy Lord shrugs, and the accordionist and his pregnant wife, Dasdô, join the troupe. The preponderance of the drama explores the shifting relationships between the circus members over the course of their journeys; it also reveals how endangered the troupe has become, both by the inability of locals to pay (the performers accept melons and other edible goods as recompense) and by competing entertainments such as television. Salomé lets the accordion player sleep with her once, with Dasdô’s knowledge. He’s moon-struck. Then, after Dasdô’s baby is born and financial disaster hits the troupe, and the accordionist must choose between seeing his wife a prostitute and leaving the caravan.
“Bye Bye Brazil is about a country which is just finishing and making way for another one which is just beginning. I can’t say exactly what is finishing, nor what is beginning. I am merely recording this unique moment, this dividing line in the story of four people, who, like any of us, seek their place in the new order, and in life.” (Carlos Diegues, Director)
“… a country on the verge of extraordinary … development, a travelogue through a nation that doesn’t yet exist… a most reflective film, nicely acted by its small cast and beautifully photographed in some remarkable locations.” (Vincent Canby, NYT)
“… (a country) groping for self-definition … the role of cinema in an endangered collective memory … a nation getting to know itself.” (F. Croce, Slant Magazine)
“The fluent narrative, impregnated with farce, humor, sensuality, and music broaches the varied aspects of the human, social, and geographic condition of the country… The key to the success … of Bye Bye Brazil lies in the solidarity of the viewer with the picaresque characters and their quest for a better life. It is dedicated to the people of the 21st Century, and does not flinch from the reality of the present nor does it discard the dream (as they drive into the future).” (Susana Schild, Film Reference)
Discussant: Jerry Carlson, The City College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
Jerry Carlson (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is Director of the Cinema Studies Program in the Department of Media & Communication Arts at The City College, CUNY. He is a specialist in narrative theory, global independent film, and the cinemas of the Americas. He is a member of the doctoral faculties of French, Film Studies and Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center, CUNY and a Senior Fellow at the Bildner Center for Western Hemispheric Studies.