Three blind sisters, Regina, Maria and Conceição, earn their living by singing in front of churches, in Brazil... They tell their amazing stories, full of drama, heartache, rape, poverty, death and hope.
In Campina Grande, Northeastern of Brazil, the three fifty and something year old illiterate Barbosa sisters (Maria das Neves a.k.a. "Maroca", Regina a.k.a."Poroca" and Conceição a.k.a. "Indaiá") are daughters of cousins and born blind. They have survived playing "ganzá" and begging on the streets of Campina Grande since their childhood. The director Roberto Berliner discloses in this remarkable documentary their sad stories, with poverty, rape, abuse inclusive sexual and love, but never corny; on the contrary, with a great message of strength, faith and hope. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
...about three blind, poor, middle-aged street-singing sisters from Northeastern Brazil and their astonishingly eventful lives, filled with stories of abandonment, abuse, rape, murder, poverty, love, fame, aging and oblivion, but above all iron willpower, faith, hope and courage to endure. The film was made between 1997 and 2003, incorporating the life changes that the shooting of the film itself brought to the sisters, including their brief media exposure as "music novelty" in Brazilian music festivals and leading sister Maria falling in love with the movie's director!
At first reminiscent of MacBethian witches, after five minutes into the film you forget about the sisters' disheveled appearance and physical handicap (and also forget about the film's "mod", affected cinematography, which fortunately straightens up in the second half), and marvel at their wonderful philosophical one-liners, spiritual strength and sheer life force; by the time of the haunting final scene by the sea, you're ready to swear they are the Three Graces sketched by a cross of Rubens and Goya. You'll be also mesmerized by the almost medieval beauty of Brazilian Northeastern folk music (cocos, emboladas, etc) and its modal melodies. The movie may lose some of its power for non-Portuguese-speaking audiences who won't be able to marvel at the insightful, rich regional expressions and interjections (eita!!!) believe me, these are some of the best lines in any Brazilian movie in recent years! The English, Spanish and French subtitles in the DVD are bureaucratic (if competent) and don't even begin to translate the sisters' vernacular treasures. But their life stories are so powerful and full of twists you'll be thrilled anyhow.
With these three unique, funny, brave women, no director could really do wrong, but Roberto Berliner did a mature, careful job as he unhurriedly collected material for 6 years and managed to edit it with coherence and a great sense of rhythm. It's one of the best documentaries out there, transcending the usual stereotyped, merely journalistic approach, and following the great cinéma-vérité lessons by Jean Rouch, with the active participation of the director and the characters, making it much more than a "slice of life". It's also a powerful antidote to audiences who are sick and tired of the unbearable, void, mummified Hollywood fiction clichés. Don't miss this film it's a gem, a joy and a life lesson too. Eita!!
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