Sunday 30 August 2020

The mourning forest: "Apiyemiyekî?"

Apiyemiyekî?, a half-hour short that continues MUBI UK's New Brazilian Cinema season, needs a bit of patience and puzzling out. You'll have, for one, to go along with the first ten minutes, and its mishmash of grainy black-and-white images: shots of the statuary outside the Congress building in Brasilia, seemingly random children's drawings, looped footage of the same stretch of road. At this point, you may just begin to wonder whether that title translates as something like What the Heck is Going On Here, Then?. Yet director Ana Vaz has a story to tell, and it's one that eventually links all three of these elements, plus the Amazon, the country's indigenous people, and its military dictatorship; it's a story that, while consigned to the past, bears some relation to a present where the Brazilian leader has - before the world's eyes - started selling off vast chunks of the rainforest, the world's lungs, to the highest bidders. A warning from history, then: the children's drawings are deployed as they would be in any horror film (as records of trauma, proofs of what kept them up anight), and Vaz achieves an unsettling, ghostly effect when she begins layering these scrawls over images of the Amazon as it is today. Here are the last remnants of a community, culture and ecosystem in the process of being forcibly, dramatically erased. In the film's closing moments, we learn that the question of the title has a very different meaning, that it's being asked of you and I, and that it has no easy or consoling answer. It isn't just Vaz's supremely evocative sound design that lingers on in the mind.

Apiyemiyekî? is now streaming via MUBI UK.

No comments:

Post a Comment