Since the 2013 protests, Brazilian politics have become the subject of countless documentary and fictional projects. In the hands of Anna Muylaert (What time is it back?) And Lô Politi (Jonas), Alvorada follows the daily life of President Dilma Rousseff, between July and September 2016, from the opening until the vote on his impeachment process. Launched during the 26th É Tudo Verdade Festival, the documentary observes the agenda and the elucubrações of the Head of State in one of the most significant moments in the recent history of our country.
Unlike the works Democracia em Vertigem (2019), Petra Costa, The Process (2018), Maria Augusta Ramos, and Excelentíssimos (2018), by Douglas Duarte, Muylaert and Politi’s approach is more intimate and uncluttered. As if they were looking at the President’s “house”, its visitors, and sometimes they would sit at the table to listen to the hostess recount her perceptions and entertain the guests with a philosophical and political analysis. One of them is a beautiful and certain analogy between the expression “the banality of evil”, coined by Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), to Eduardo Cunha, then president of the Chamber of Deputies.
The events take place around the same time as the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the television in the bedrooms of the house testifies to this, while Dilma’s voice speaks only of a complaint about not being able to participate in an event ceremony. , since she was far from home. The pressure of the time was established in the president’s meetings with the press, both national and international. Their responses are thoughtful and passive, however, reporters seek a “confession” or logical explanation of the process of the process in Congress.
When Dilma Rousseff is not in the spotlight, the rooms of the Palácio da Alvorada acquire the status of characters, not just decor. Within its walls, government officials circulate and perform their duties, from preparing the daily menu, to watching out for emas and ducks, to preparing for a speech. On the spot, most of the discussions relate to the drafting of a letter to the supporters, to the ministers and even to the “enemies” of the government.
Without letting go of the wheel, Dilma is ostentatious in her defense and aware of the political game. The iconic photo from his 1970 military court audit is given a precise frame, as officials and advisers follow the impeachment vote. If other documentaries show the circus of the process in Congress, Alvorada draws a parallel between the peace of the accused and his indefensible imputation: not to be part of a major political agreement.
The visit of a group of women of African descent illustrates the access to unprecedented dialogues between the presidency and civil society, just as Dilma’s ramblings on the fictitious construction of “great evil” invoke an interesting political figure. The big question of the documentary is whether Dilma Rousseff embodied a character to go through the impeachment process firmly or whether the unwavering countenance before the delegitimization of her mandate was genuine. At the same time, following in the footsteps of the occupant of Alvorada, the directors might not want answers, but memories.
After the vote of August 31, 2016, the image of a warrior remains when she is received to the sound of “Olê, olê, olá, Dilma, Dilma” at the door of the palace. However, little by little, the furniture and personal items are removed from the place and sent to Rio Grande do Sul. Dilma returns to the scene in the montages of the only direct conversation with the directors, in which she quotes José Saramago, Guimarães Rosa and the poem Paraíso Perdido, by the British John Milton, in the 17th century. She retains bitterness, revolt and amazement as she walks through the figure of the devil, which, for her, is “an intriguing creation”.
With the camera as a witness and, rarely, in the role of inquisitor, Anna Muylaert and Lô Politi portray a period of Brazilian political history from the point of view of a voiceless infrastructure. The main character leaves the stage and leaves an empty chair, the last frame of the documentary is exactly this provocative verification of the ephemeral. Next to the chair, the painting of Di Cavalcanti on the wall of the presidential chamber remains on the screen until the last second, and Alvorada witnesses the exhalation of its occupants.
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