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By Your Side (Na Sua Companhia, 2012), Marcelo Caetano

Originally published as part of a weekly quarantine column at Cinema Tropical in June 2020.

One of the most interesting practices consolidated during the quarantine has been the popularization of curated playlists that select films from the vast indistinction of the online world and suggest possible genealogies, intersections, and organizations. While the festival circuit celebrates the previously unseen, moved by the currency of premieres and presentations, the online world has great (and still under-explored) potential to re-present, articulating new possible readings for films that defy their immediate shelf-life, or which might not have gotten the attention they deserved at the time of their theatrical release.

This week, the Brazilian programmer Luís Fernando Moura started an exciting project called Fuga to publish thematic transnational playlists that will be available to stream for free for one week, accompanied by liner notes in both English and Portuguese. The first playlist, which will be available until June 14, is titled Nursing Stories, and it includes the feature film Naomi Campbell (2013), by Chilean filmmakers Camila José Donoso and Nicolás Videla, and the shorts Nursing History (2018, Mike Hoolboom, Canada), Thinya (2019, Lia Letícia, Brazil), Three Songs About Liberation (2017, Cauleen Smith, U.S.A.), and this week’s recommendation here at Veredas Tropicais: Marcelo Caetano’s In Your Company (2012, also known as By Your Side), available in the link above.

When I moderated the conversation with Caetano Gotardo to celebrate the release of Your Bones and Your Eyes (2019) in the Cinema Tropical Collection, I mentioned that, while there is a strong and ongoing conversation concerning the decisive presence of women and people of color in Brazilian cinema (especially black and indigenous cinemas), the role played by LGBTQ filmmakers and films focused on queer perspectives in shaping contemporary Brazilian cinema remains under-acknowledged. Filmmakers like Gotardo, Gustavo Vinagre, Tavinho Teixeira, Juliana Rojas, Sergio Silva, Karim Aïnouz, Marco Dutra, Julia Katharine, Carlos Adriano, Marcelo Caetano, Rafael Lessa, René Guerra, and collectives such as Surto & Deslumbramento – among many, many others – have played decisive roles in queering the expressive possibilities of Brazilian cinema in the past two or three decades, pushing it to explore new and different territories.

In Your Company is perhaps my favorite film directed by Caetano – whose first fiction film, Body Electric, premiered in Rotterdam in 2017. By focusing on the relationship between individual bodies and communal spaces, In Your Company is a great example of how the contribution of queer cinema goes way beyond the more immediate, and itself very important, diversity of lives being represented and representing on screen. In its complex play between foreground and background, singles and group shots, static and motion, the film challenges, expands and redefines formal, theoretical, and historical presumptions about the craft of film itself, actualizing Susan Sontag’s demand that we replace a hermeneutical approach to film for an erotics of cinema.

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