Cris, aged 12, and her older brother are left at the side of the road by their parents. Very quickly the punishment turns into an even greater challenge. "Eles Voltam" (They'll Come Back") ...
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Cris, aged 12, and her older brother are left at the side of the road by their parents. Very quickly the punishment turns into an even greater challenge. "Eles Voltam" (They'll Come Back") follows Cris as she attempts to find her way back home. It is a journey through a series of different realities, guided by the people that inhabit them. A modern day fable, filled with realistic overtones, and the story of Cris's self-discovery.Written by
Sort of an Odyssey in Brazilian settlements by middle class girl, greatly influencing her view on the world and its class differences. May be insightful for us Europeans too
I saw this film at the Rotterdam film festival 2013. Its international premiere there was part of the official Havos Tiger Awards competition for (up)coming talent. I must confess, in hindsight, that I did not pay enough attention while reading the synopsis on the festival website, though it contained several clues to the many hidden meanings in this film. I assumed a more simplistic story about a boy and a girl lost in the Brazilian landscapes, meeting good and bad people underway, and eventually being happily united with the same parents who threw them out of the car in the beginning of the film. It may be possible that I have seen too many coming-of-age stories, so that my auto pilot was steering me in the wrong direction. This film is very different in the positive sense. If below text can serve as a heads up, so much the better, since this movie deserves it.
The final Q&A made abundantly clear that aforementioned clues probably would have been obvious for people in Brazil. However, it does not work for us Europeans. The segregation between settlers and natives is in fact an overarching theme in this film. Racial differences are only one thing, but we also see primitive housing circumstances and different life styles of the settlers. An average Brazilian would immediately have recognized one of the remarks about Cris, our 12 year old main character, that she was "very white". It did not mean much to me when these words were spoken, and its underlying meaning was completely lost on me. It also explains why Cris hesitates a long time when approached by one of the settlers passing by on his bike, asking whether she needs help.
Cris, having a middle class background, closely experiences the circumstances these people live in and their different way of life. However young, she is old enough to let it greatly influence her world view in the process. The director told us that he has visited those places before the shooting, and was very welcome everywhere and warmly received. He observes a great distance between the city that he would describe as "cold", in sharp contrast with the "warm" receipt by the settlers. He has adapted the script afterwards to highlight these two extremes and make that the core subject of this film.
Main character Cris is the star of this film, then 12 years old now 15. Her brother plays a much less important role. Her journey triggers a considerable change as a result from her contacts underway. Modern film makers in Brazil concentrate on the middle class as an upcoming force, and they consider this a new wave in their industry. Brazil has much more to show than the limited view on Brazil we got from earlier cinema. The growing complexity in society is an important topic that deserves wider exploration. This film is a perfect example of showing a part of the country that every Brazilian resident knows to exist without ever really having been there.
The film at hand allows the viewer to feel along with the main character, but leaves you with your own interpretation. The low pace (but not boring in any way) gives you ample chance to follow developments. In this case we see the main character grow, and the effect the journey had on her. For example, in one of the final scenes we see that she even ditches her old friends at school when groups are to be formed for assignments, in favor of a girl who has apparently seen more of the world and has other interests than shopping in the mall.
This screening was the international premiere. Before Rotterdam it has only been shown in Brazil, where it was selected for a festival in 2012. The latter event forced them to prepare the finished product in a hurry, using the raw footage already shot before. Following the festival it had a lot of success within Brazil. The current screening in Rotterdam was in a venue that was fully booked (375 seats).
All in all, this film worked out much better than could be derived from the synopsis on the festival website. The IMDb synopsis is better in that respect, but still lacking some important clues. It is a pity that many hidden (for us) meanings will be lost on viewers outside Brazil. Hopefully, the above provides for ample preliminary information, allowing you to pick up the underlying story line better than I did.
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