Magazine article Variety

Brazil: A Case Study in Anger, SOUND & FURY

Magazine article Variety

Brazil: A Case Study in Anger, SOUND & FURY

Article excerpt

Politicians seem mystified by growing global unrest, but showbiz has its finger on the pulse of the enraged masses

If Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff had taken a look at more of her nation's movies, she might have avoided some of the civil unrest that has been spreading like wildfire across the country. On June 20,1 million Brazilians - students, middle-class professionals, trade union rank-and-file, '60s activists and entire families - staged the nation's largest street protest since 1992 - the time of the impeachment of president Fernando Collor.

In 2013, similar demonstrations have been held in territories including Egypt (see story, p.52), Spain, TXirkey, Greece and Russia. The protests in Brazil are a microcosm of what's behind all the anger, and what's to come - and a reminder that the entertainment business has had its finger on the pulse of the nation, zeroing in on the signals that are often ignored by politicians.

The Brazilian fury targeted a number of issues - cuts in the country's public services, the $14 billion bill for the nation to stage the 2014 World Cup, the cost of living, a constitutional amendment limiting prosecutors' ability to investigate politicians, and even a Brazilian evangelists' bill in Congress to "cure" homosexuality.

But there's a bigger picture.

Brazil is a young democracy: Its first modern elections took place in 1990. Growing 4% annually during 2003-10, its economic boom lifted 40 million Brazilians out of poverty. Many flooded into already-congested cities. Brazil's growing middle-classes now have time to consider the quality of their life, and often are unhappy with what they see. The Brazilian masses have evolved far more quickly than its ruling elite.

As the digital world offers citizens a chance to view their lifestyle and compare it to others around the world, the reaction is often a sense of betrayal.

"Brazil's hospitals and education are terrible. People want more direct participation in democracy. Their basic values are not being taken into account," said producer Paula Cosenza, at Sao Paulo's Bossa Nova Films.

The frustrations erupted June 13, when police officers fired stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets at a small group of Sao Paulo protesters, bystanders and motorists.

In general, the movie industry reacts slowly to historical change, since films often take 18 months or more to develop, shoot and distribute. …

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