Revision of the executive decree – a hostile environment hits Brazil in a frightening and credible dystopia | Film
A chilling credibility creeps into this dystopian debut from actor-turned-director Lázaro Ramos that’s hard to shake off. It takes place in the near future, where a radical government in Brazil gives the order to expel all the black population of the country “to Africa”. What’s so troubling is that the order is the latest in a series of policies aimed at making Brazil a hostile environment for people of color — and those policies don’t feel a million miles away from the reality (for example, the Windrush scandal or the flights of asylum seekers to Rwanda, Trump’s wall or Jair Bolsonaroracism).
It begins satirically. Antônio (Alfred Enoch) is a thoughtful young human rights lawyer who files injunction after injunction against a new government department. This is the Ministry of Return, which has set up a voluntary system offering black people a one-way ticket to an African country of their choice. (The script is vague on immigration deals with African nations — and it’s let down in a few other places by vagueness and implausibility.) Ramos shows the stupidity of this racist policy in a sequence of amusing interviews with potential volunteers. Lawyer Antônio, worried but clueless about the chaos to come, tells his wife, hospital doctor Capitu (Taís Araújo), that if it all starts, they should meet at their apartment.
The film switches to survival movie mode as the government orders the forced eviction. As squads of military police armed with batons and Tasers take to the streets to round up black people, Antônio and his cousin André (Seu Jorge) hide in Antônio’s apartment. Capitu takes refuge in an “Afro-Bunker”, one of a network of secret underground communities. What is so terrifying about the film is the convincing way in which Ramos paints the fragility of rights: a few steps are enough. As one character observes: “Do we see the story as it unfolds? »