Wednesday 24 May 2023

Dry Ground Burning [2022]

 Dry Ground Burning, as the title indicated, was scorched, grimy and incendiary, and – as a ferociously feminist, bleakly dystopian and boldly political film; cinema of resistance; an exercise in agitprop; grungy, revisionist Western; speculative thriller; “ethnographic sci-fi”; and a work of docufiction – operated, with formal suppleness, in the shifting intersection of multiple genres. It simultaneously captured Bolsenaro’s toxic, right-wing politics, and evoked a nightmarish “what-if” scenario wherein the country has devolved into a post-apocalyptic police state and carceral society, leading to underground dissidents defiantly seizing pockets of control. And what a brash defiance it was! An all-female collective of outlaws and residents of the impoverished Sol Nascente favela in the outskirts of Brasilia – comprising of Chitarra (Joana Darc Furtado), a single mother and the voluptuous leader of the gasolinheiras; her nonchalant half-sister Léa (Léa Alves da Silva), who’s recently been released from jail; and Andreia (Andreia Vieira), who’s founded the Prison People Party with the aim to provide voice and empowerment to people, especially women, who continue to face terrible discrimination and impediments on account of past incarcerations – have taken control of an underground pipeline from which they extract crude gasoline, refine it into oil and sell that to a motorcycle gang for distribution. The film’s three gangsta protagonists – whose lives, in a blurring of boundaries, mirrored that of the respective actors –, therefore, formed a fearless vanguard and represented a proud future that “isn’t just female: it is Black, lesbian, profoundly matriarchal.” Its most scintillating moments included Andreia’s rap-canvassing of her political manifesto, and a hypnotic pan within a Bolsenaro rally where the crowd of smug conservatives was the very antithesis of this film and its three heroines.

Director: Joana Pimenta & Adirley Queiros

Genre: Drama/Sci-Fi/Revisionist Western/Crime Drama

Language: Portuguese

Country: Brazil

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