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  • Writer's pictureInvisible Women

Spotlight: Eunice Gutman



 

We’ve been fans of Brazilian video artist Eunice Gutman for a long time. In 2022, we featured her 1994 film Amores de Rua in our London Short Film Festival programme, And What Does Your Mother Do? Since then, we've wanted to highlight more of her fascinating body of work. Finally, in June 2024 we got the chance, when IW’s Camilla curated Hoje eu sou eu Three films by Eunice Gutman, a programme for CinemaAttic’s Brasil - A Slow Film Festival, a showcase of her work that cast an unflinching lens on the hidden corners of 1980s and 1990s Rio de Janeiro, revealing the struggles and triumphs of its resilient communities. 


For those who were not able to attend the screenings, we have shared Camilla’s intro (slightly amended) below.


 

HOJE EU SOU EU (Today I am Myself)



Welcome to HOJE EU SOU EU (Today I am Myself), featuring three films by Eunice Gutman, screening as part of CinemaAttic’s Brasil - A Slow Film Festival and the Latin Connection Film Festival. This retrospective was curated by me, Camilla Baier. I’m part of the feminist film collective Invisible Women, which aims to champion female filmmakers and bring their films from archives to screens, and we’re so excited to have been invited by CinemaAttic to co-present this special programme. 


I have been speaking with Eunice a lot over the last few weeks. She's immensely proud and excited that her films are being screened in Scotland, and she sends her love to all of you! 



 

EUNICE GUTMAN


Throughout her career, Eunice Gutman has dedicated her work to amplifying the voices of the disenfranchised, confronting cultural conventions, and shedding light on the roles of women in Brazilian society.


But before dedicating herself to cinema, Eunice Gutman embarked on an academic journey. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Eunice first trained as a primary school teacher and in the early 1970s, she went on to study sociology but eventually decided to pivot towards film. Her film career began in Belgium, where she attended a specialised broadcasting film course in Brussels. She then worked on editing Belgian and French television programmes but eventually returned to Brazil, where she began editing TV commercials and films, as one of the female pioneers of this work. She has said:


During film school, I specialised in editing, a field where women were already working in Europe. When I arrived in Brazil, I realised that there were almost no women in this role within a film crew. Editing was done in a room illuminated only by a lamp over the editing table. There was a director who even said: 'How am I going to be alone in a dark room with you?' 


But she made her way in and worked as an editor from the mid-70s onward, and soon started dipping her toes in screenwriting and even directing. She made her directorial debut in 1976 with the documentary “E o Mundo era Muito Maior que a Minha Casa” (And the World Was Much Bigger than My Home”), about the adult literacy process in rural Rio de Janeiro, honing in on a 77-year-old woman who is in the process of learning how to read and rediscovering the world around her through literacy.


So from the genesis of her directorial practice, her work has been dedicated to analysing the role of women in society, specifically the patriarchal Brazilian society:


I have always been interested in talking about what is not easily said. In my films, that is what has always driven me. To learn more about those who are excluded, made almost invisible. And in that context comes the struggle of women for a greater space within our established society.


And I think, or at least hope, that the selection of three films that we’ve put together here will showcase exactly this dedication to illuminate hidden corners or eclipsed communities that Eunice is describing here and how it manifested in her work.


 

A ROCINHA TEM HISTÓRIAS (1985)



The programme starts with A Rocinha tem histórias (Rocinha has stories), where Eunice delves into the reality of community schools in the Rocinha favela of Rio de Janeiro. The film came about after one morning in the early 1980s, a newspaper article caught her attention: It read that residents of the Rocinha community, unable to enrol their children in schools, were building schools themselves through ingenious and creative ways.


I’d like to mention here that the resolution of Rocinha is not optimal, as it was filmed on video and has not yet been restored. This is a common issue with much of the work by women filmmakers due to a lack of resources and recognition. Despite this, the motivation of the teachers and the positivity of the children are palpable even through the grainy footage! So I hope you can still appreciate the film.


 

AMORES DE RUA (1994)



Next, we have Amores de Rua (Street Lovers), which offers a portrait of Rio’s red-light district, weaving together a series of interviews with sex workers and captures their stories, strengths, and struggles. Additionally, the film explores the evolution of their informal networks into organised advocacy groups, enabling them to work in safer and more self-determined conditions.

Here, as always in her documentaries, Eunice Gutman cultivates a profound sense of empathy by giving her subjects the platform to speak directly to the camera, conveying their personal stories and emotions in their own words, providing an unfiltered and intimate glimpse into their world.


 

 

SÓ NO CARNAVAL (1982) 



Concluding our programme is Só no Carnaval (Only During Carnaval), which, unlike Rocinha, has recently been restored and will be shown in a stunning 2K restoration! This 1982 documentary, co-directed by Eunice and Regina Veiga, originated during the filming of their second short film together. While documenting a group of samba players in Rio's Penha region, they learned of a Carnaval block party where a large group of men dress up as prostitutes for fun. Intrigued, they asked themselves: What drives this fascination with gender bending during Carnaval? Through their cameras, they sought answers;


Só no Carnaval delves into the complexities of traditional gender roles in Brazilian society. In particular, the film highlights deeply ingrained stereotypes that men still hold about what it means to be a woman. As an, let’s say, unorthodox and provocative Carnaval film, it showcases Eunice and Regina’s feminist lens and highlights the contradictions within Brazilian culture during the festive Carnaval celebration.


 

Hoje eu sou eu (Today I am myself), which is a line from another of Eunice's films, which we would have loved to include in this programme called Nos Caminhos Do Lixo (As Catadoras de Jacutinga) about a co-op of waste recycling created by a group of women, that say through financially emancipating themselves they can 'Today be themselves', free and independent. While this film has not been restored yet, I hope we can organise another screening of Eunice’s films in the future, where we can include it. She is still working, now in her 80s and her already impressive filmography continues to grow.


Nos Caminhos Do Lixo (As Catadoras de Jacutinga) (2009)

Thank you for joining us to celebrate the work of Eunice Gutman and the powerful stories she brings to light!


Enjoy the screening!







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