That’s the contradiction of Vazante: it is a work that presents itself as an historical account of what was done to black bodies throughout Brazil’s social formation, but denies any meaningful possibility of agency and autonomy to black characters and, worse than that, to a black spectator.
A close look at the film’s title raises an inevitable question: who does Dear White People assume as its interlocutor? In the context of contemporary American cinema, Justin Simien’s satire is a rare case of a film who doesn’t back for white attention.
While a softer, less threatening approach would make it easier on the audience and could turn the film to an investigation of the personality of the characters, filmmaker Jan Soldat goes raw.
The fact we must acknowledge is that the film industry finances so few movies about the multiplicity of black experience that every time one of these films comes around we bring an unspoken expectation that it’ll be a definitive one, able to address all the uncovered topics.
San Cristóbal illustrates the idea of oppression based on sexual orientation, but does not extend the characters’ lives to other dimensions. Lucas and Antonio seem to exist only to prove a predetermined point.
One of the strengths of this film is that the filmmakers present banal events through an enchanted perspective that reflects their genuine interest in the characters’ lives.