Short film. Brazil, 2016.
Growing up in Barcelona listening to my father play bossa nova on guitar, learning about the work and social compromise of artists such as Vik Muniz, watching movies like “Cidade de Deus” or “Orfeu Negro,” dancing samba or learning Portuguese, I understood early on that Brazilian culture has incredible depth, sensibility and complexity.
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to direct some film work in Nigeria for a few months. Shortly after landing on Lagos soil, I realized that I was standing on the roots of a culture that had been instilled in me since birth: from the musicality in the Yoruba language, to their reverence to the Orixá, to the spice in the food and the eyes of Nigerians, or their deep-rooted and everlasting love for music and rhythm. I was captivated. The connection between Brazil and Nigeria was undeniable.
In my practice, I am interested in exploring the elements that craft our identity as human beings and the mechanisms that we acquire to cope with change. “Amenze, In Between Worlds” reflects on themes of belonging, foreignness, migration, identity and alienation. What are the elements – human, geographical, cultural, historical, linguistic – that make up the concept of Home? How do we handle trauma? And loss? How can we penetrate our layers and regain touch with our vulnerability after having been alienated from ourselves? Which factors can help trigger this transition?
Afro-Brazilians — people who self-identify as black or brown — make up over 50 percent of Brazil’s population, a total of about 106 million individuals. It is the world’s largest black population outside Africa and the second largest after Nigeria. Racial inequality has obvious historical roots: Slavery in Brazil lasted for approximately three centuries, from the start of the 16th century to the mid-19th, a period during which five million slaves were shipped here from Africa — around 11 times more than to North America. The nation was the last in the Americas to abolish slavery, in 1888. But many Afro-Brazilians are still confined to the margins of society. In the context of a Brazilian favela, “Amenze, In Between Worlds” also explores the intersectionality and relationship between a newly arrived African woman and her surroundings – the favela of Vidigal, where its inhabitants are victims of marginalization, oppression and inequality.
It was important for me to collaborate with other women on this project: an African-American first-time actress, an up-and-coming Nigerian writer, a seasoned Brazilian producer and myself, a European director with North African roots. The beauty and the lessons which came out of this transcontinental, multicultural collaboration will stay with me forever and I hope this film will encourage others to reflect and heal around the world.