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Cult Vault #3: Bruno Safadi on Belair

Director Bruno Safadi on the Brazilian avant-garde in experimental film collective Belair

Taken from the June 2010 issue of Dazed & Confused:

Brazilian director Bruno Safadi recently teamed up with Noa Bressane to make a documentary about her father, one third of a forgotten 70s Brazilian experimental film collective, Belair. Here Safadi recommends Belair’s seven groundbreaking films; cult rarities that deserve to reclaim their place in the history of avant-garde filmmaking. 

“Belair was a production company created by the Brazilian filmmakers Julio Bressane and Rogério Sganzerla, and the great actress Helena Ignez, the muse of Brazilian New Cinema. They met at the Brasilia film festival in 1969 – Bressane was there with Killed The Family And Went To The Cinema, and Sganzerla with his film The Red Light Bandit, which became a classic Brazilian movie. Between February and May 1970, they founded Belair and made seven feature films together in Rio de Janeiro, in just four months – but before they were even released, they were banned. The filmmakers had to leave Brazil, carrying some of the negatives with them, first to Paris then London. They were only 23 years old at the time. In 1970, Brazil was in the worst moment of its military dictatorship. They created the AI-5 – a law allowing the military to arrest any suspect without a warrant. The years that followed were terrible. A lot of people were arrested, many artists left Brazil for Europe. 

These movies are the most daring and produced some of the finest frames in the history of Brazilian cinema. One such frame is in A Família do Barulho, when Helena Ignez spits blood. The other, perhaps the greatest scene of Brazilian cinema, is the final scene of Sem Essa Aranha. The scene lasts ten minutes without a cut and it’s accompanied by the King of the Baião, Luis Gonzaga, singing the song ‘Boca do Forno’, and a troupe of performers led by the great comedian Jorge Loredo, plus some Brazilians eating a plate of food. The brutal reaction to Belair’s films show the power of intimidation the movies created. The films have hardly ever been shown until today. But they have become cults by word of mouth. The dictatorship ended in Brazil in 1985 and a new generation is discovering Belair. They’re films to be studied for many generations to come.”