Film series commemorates pivotal year during Brazilian civil-military dictatorship

By Shannan Palma | Feb. 28, 2018

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Students studying Portuguese language gather with Fulbright Emory Distinguished Chair in Brazilian Studies Benito Schmidt.

"Resistance and Memory," a year-long film series commemorating 50 years since 1968, a pivotal year in Brazilian history, screens its final film March 1 before concluding with a special symposium March 20.

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program organized the series, in collaboration with the Department of Film and Media Studies and with the generous support of The Halle Institute for Global Research and Learning. The final film in the series, "O Dia que Durou 21 Anos (The Day that Lasted 21 Years)," will screen March 1 at 7 p.m. in Harland Cinema. The screening is open to the public.

Brazilian President João Goulart was overthrown in a military coup d’etat in 1964, establishing an authoritarian military dictatorship that remained in power through 1985.

“1968 stands out for the gravity of its events in a decade marked by political and social turmoil around the world,” says Ana Catarina Teixeira, director of the Portuguese Program and lecturer in Portuguese in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. “For Brazil, ‘68 is remembered, on one hand, as a year of resistance and street protests against the military dictatorship and, on the other, as a time when the regime consolidated its repressive approach to governance.”

The film series kicked off last fall during Brazil Week with a lecture by the first Fulbright Emory Distinguished Chair in Brazilian Studies, Benito Schmidt, and has since been integrated into a number of classes over the course of the academic year. PhD students in history and sociology have led the discussions following each film screening. In addition, a call went out for undergraduate students to apply to be Workshop Fellows. The seven students who were selected have completed assigned readings, participated in faculty-led workshops and screenings, written responses and recently completed essays as their final research project.

“Last fall I had the opportunity to take Professor Gold’s Spain-Culture of Human Rights course,” wrote workshop fellow Christina Crawford 18C in her application. “As part of a final research paper, I focused my studies on the change in the representation of the immigrant experience in contemporary Spanish cinema following the Franco dictatorship. My film studies last fall emphasized the dilemma many filmmakers face when trying to create something that is both entertaining and precise in detail to controversial events. This workshop series seems to be the perfect opportunity to observe a similar situation in another cultural setting like the Brazilian civil-military dictatorship.”

“Brazil is a geographic focal point for Emory University,” says Jeffrey Lesser, director of The Halle Institute. “With so many faculty and students interested in the country, exciting opportunities pop up all the time. The Halle Institute for Global Research and Learning leads Emory’s Brazil Initiative, supporting innovative research and teaching programs that bring together faculty and students from across the university, and from Brazil, in rich and compelling ways.

"Dr. Teixeira’s program, which engaged students and faculty from across the university, provided participants with the opportunity to engage with each other, with the Fulbright Emory Distinguished Chair Professor Benito Schmidt, and students and faculty from the Federal University of Sao Paulo. The Halle Institute is excited to support creative and interdisciplinary projects like this film series and its associated workshops and poster exposition.” 

The film series will culminate March 20 in a symposium bringing together undergraduate and graduate students with Emory faculty across disciplines who are united by research interests in Brazil and the Lusophone world as well as in civil rights, citizenship and authoritarian regimes.

Following the symposium, the undergraduate fellows’ essays will be available on display in the Woodruff Library – each one accompanied by an iconic image chosen by the author to represent the period.