CASA, by Letícia Simões1 and premiered at Olhar de Cinema - Curitiba Festival 2019, shows a female family self-portrait of a documentary filmmaker who provides an intimate look at the conflicts between grandmother, mother and daughter. Letícia Simões' documentary consists of successive and defined scenarios that structure the story: Her attempt to enter the childhood home --now abandoned-- establishes the metaphor at a visual level. The dialogue with her mother on a car ride and visits to the grandmother in a nursing home confine the characters to their respective spaces. Among these the photos --highlighted with blue strokes--, the beach and the rain, allow the flow of thought.
"CASA is a long documentary that I was making over four years in which the registry - rather, the attempt to register - of textures of the relationship between my mother and my grandmother," Letícia tells excitedly. Gradually the protagonists became accustomed to the presence of the camera. The cuts, seemingly short and few in the middle of long and motionless planes, seem to attest to this and reveal the escalation of situations.
The unseen is always there
CASA cannot be reduced to a documentary in which the documentary filmmaker observes herself in her relationship with her mother and grandmother, though the fixed camera mounted almost casually suggests it. There is an implicit violence in relationships that the mother has become aware of and manifests in her psychic discomfort, irritating to others and marked by those who are excluded from the portrait, men.
The memories set in photographs, locked up with long chains and hanging locks, which adds to the almost absence of men in their stories reveals the effort made by the director. It could be argued that from the conception the documentary focuses on the relationship between the three women, but there is an even more violent account of the other family line that only the documentary maker can tell but not show. Just as the violent men remain absent, Brazilian political news does not seem to affect the relationship of the three women, but it gravitates there, as an unease, as the discomfort of the spectator who observes from the perspective of a piece of furniture, of a memory placed in the showcase. The sound design underlines this feeling.
Expose yourself to protect others from themselves
Just as Letícia Simões boldly invades the old summer house, the idyllic place of childhood, and suddenly takes out and holds an action camera with a wide-angle lens to reveal something about the mother while driving the car, she also stalks the reproach after each sentence of dialogue to silence or discomfort. Recognizing yourself in a story and identifying yourself with the narrative protagonist can be comforting, but its image touches us deeply only when we see exposed non-verbalized violent intimacy before the camera.
1 Letícia Simões has studied Contemporary Art Studies at the UFF, Rio de Janeiro and made a master's degree in documentary essay at the International School of Film and Television in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. Her debut opera * O Chalé é uma Ilha Batida de Vento e Chuva * has received the Looke Distribution Award and has been selected as the best Brazilian feature film in the Outros Olhares show.