SYMPOSIUM: Imaginações de Carnaval/Carnival Imaginaries
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
4:00 pm Central
Register via Zoom
“The second full-length film by the Franco-Greek artist Evangelia Kranioti is a spellbinding, hallucinatory film essay that wanders off the beaten narrative track and takes us to Rio de Janeiro, the go-to city for anyone wanting to transform into a new version of themselves—at the exhilarating, gender-bending carnival, or one of the many nightclubs for the queer scene.”
The quote above from the Berlinale catalog of 2018, in which Obscuro Barroco premiered is ever so typical of how Rio’s carnival has been cinematically imagined. From Orson Welles’ It’s all True (1942), through Marcel Camus’ Orfeu Negro/Black Orpheus (1959) , Rio’s carnaval has been a prolific site for filmmakers’ often imaginary incursions into the perceived alterity of carnaval: a yearly suspension of “normality” into which can be read multiple intervention, ranging from the literary (Vinicius de Morais, Clarice Lispector), the hedonistic, and the subversive.
Stimulated by Obscuro Barroco (2018), directed by Greek filmmaker Evangelina Kranioti, this symposium gathers an international group of films scholars to explore the dimensions of these “imaginações,” especially as they intersect with other contextual paradigms and influences beyond the literary, such as tourism, music, and political struggle.
- Our guide and narrator in Obscuro Barroco is the famous Brazilian transgender activist Luana Muniz (1961-2017), who is sensual and melancholy as she recites lines of poetry from Clarice Lispector’s experimental monologue Água Viva. Reflections on identity, aging and self-expression all flow into the lights of Rio. Political events that herald a new conservative era seep into the background of this dizzying dream. Slowly and elegiacally, the camera glides at first over a forest shrouded in fog, then over a panorama of Rio de Janeiro. An off-screen voice tells us that Rio is a factory of dreams and nightmares, a city of transformations. In her essayistic film Obscuro Barroco Greek director Evangelia Kranioti explores the poetic words of her transgender narrator Luana Muniz, who is herself an icon of Brazil’s queer subculture. Amidst a somnambulistic tide of images she enters the pulsating world of creatures of the night. A stream of consciousness from Brazil’s underground flows straight into the heart of the city’s street carnival. In between the masks and the make-up, the young, naked and new bodies and a spectacular firework display, people come into view who have undergone a transformation that makes it difficult to clearly ascribe them to any gender. A white clown leads us through the film’s visual universe in which, all of a sudden, raw-faced anti-government protests also put in an appearance. And then, behind closed doors, all is bared, the ‘transvestites’ are serenaded and celebrate who they are until the dream culminates in one ecstatic dance.
This symposium is sponsored by Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies, the School of Liberal Arts’ Department of Communication and Department of Spanish and Portuguese, with the collaboration of Lisa Hooper, Media Librarian at the Howard Tilton Memorial Library.
Special thanks to Christopher Dunn, Megwen Loveless, Hannah Palmer, Valerie McGinley and all the staff at the Stone Center who are always the ideal partners in crime!