Olhos Azuis (Clique aqui para ler a tradução do post do Google Translator)
Olhos Azuis, or Blue Eyes in English, is a labor of love about some of the most pressing issues in the US today: immigration, xenophobia, and our relationship with Latin America. It was filmed in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, and takes place in both New York and Brazil.
While I had somewhat low expectations before seeing the film, I was extremely impressed by how the story unfolded and how drawn I was to each of the characters. In fact, I wished they had spent some more time focusing on the other characters, including a Honduran martial arts team, a Cuban ballerina, and two Argentine poets, who could have even held the movie in their own right.
But the stars are really the heart of the film, including American David Rasche, who plays the immigration agent, Cristina Lago, who plays a charming prostitute who speaks amazing English, and Irandhir Santos, who plays the Brazilian living in the US. While there are plenty of stereotypes to be had -- the obnoxious, racist American and the free-spirited Brazilian prostitute -- the balance prevents the movie from becoming wholly anti-American or a Brazilian cliche. I was impressed by each of their performances, since I'd known Rasche as the manipulative millionaire from Ugly Betty and Lago as the star of Maré: A Historia da Nossa Amor, and both were completely different and extremely fun to watch in this movie.
The movie takes a back and forth approach to the story, flipping between the past and present to keep you curious about what comes next. The sense of humiliation, dread, and terrible discomfort that come with being harassed at immigration pervade the whole movie, giving anyone who has never encountered it a taste of what it's like, and anyone who has a painful reminder of their experience. It is this sense of dread and constrangimento that really keeps you on the edge of your seat.
The truth is that Latin Americans are often targeted by immigration at American and European airports, and are sometimes subjected to humiliating and traumatic treatment (just this last week, this issue was featured on an American comedy). When Eli was traveling in Europe, he was treated similarly to Nonato, the Brazilian character, and was always flagged and interrogated by immigration officers in every country he went to. Luckily, his experience in the US has been just fine, and I pray that anytime we travel, it will continue to be fine, but you never know.
There are too many stories about families torn apart because of the whim of immigration agents, judges, and others in power, and I think this movie serves as an important reminder to the governments of developed countries that people are paying attention and that the stories of those who have been wronged will not be silenced. I imagine that many Latin Americans will be able to relate to this movie, and
will feel a sense of satisfaction that someone has finally decided to tell their story, a story not about drugs or crime, but about regular, hard-working, legal immigrants and visitors who deserve to have their rights respected and to be treated like human beings.
The film recently was shown in Chicago and Paris, and premieres in Brazil on May 28th. I'm hoping that it will be shown at MoMa's Brazilian film festival this summer, so those of you in the New York area will be able to see it. For more information on the movie, please check out the movie's excellent blog, and stay tuned for my exclusive interview with David Rasche later this week!
Muito bom ter este feedback de quem, tão de perto, conhece a política de imigração americana. Aguardamos a publicação da entrevista de Rachel com o nosso ator protagonista, David Rasche, a ser publicada em breve.