Experimental documentary: Kopacabana


High-rise buildings, beaches, women in bikinis, drag queens, and dimly lit tunnels flash by as the famous Brazilian writer and performer Fausto Fawcett improvises lyrics about Copacabana. We do not see him. In voiceover, he repeats the name of the Rio de Janeiro neighborhood again and again, declaring that the word is “related to sensuality, to worldliness, related to devastatingly beautiful nature … of the most beautiful urban beach in the world, as a mantra from the undergrounds of Brazil.” Copacabana — with its wild nightlight and flesh-baring day life — should aspire to be the “Monaco of the apocalypses.” Fawcett’s deep, slow voice ebbs and flows against a discordant soundscape created by another Brazilian musician, Arnaldo Brandão.

Filmmakers Khalil Charif and Marcos Bonisson gave Fawcett creative freedom in the recording studio. “A lot of the text comes from his background, which he has been developing since he started in the ’80s,” Charif says. “And he brought that in his head, in a very visceral way. Marcos Bonisson and I felt that the challenge of dealing with that poetic dimension, with that verve, would be something huge.”

The film footage is a mix of new and archival Super 8 film, as well as digital and drone footage. The filmmakers don’t attempt to illustrate Fawcett’s speech with images but, instead, present a collage with a range of possible interpretations. “The sound that Arnaldo Brandão, another living legend of ours, brought us was genial, and he manages to bring an atmosphere to the images that does not steal the scene, but is absolutely present in the pulse of the film,” Charif says. Center for Contemporary Arts 

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