F.: Arne Sucksdorff. Scen.: Arne Sucksdorff, Flávio Migliaccio, João Bethencourt. Mus.: Radamés Gnattali. Int.: Josafá Da Silva Santos (Paulinho), Antônio Carlos de Lima (Rico), Leila Santos de Sousa (Lici), Cosme dos Santos (Jorginho). Prod.: AB Svensk Filmindustri. DCP. D.: 88’ a 24 f/s. Bn.
Arne Sucksdorff (1917-2001) is Sweden’s most prominent non-fiction filmmaker, having directed 16 shorts and four feature-length films between 1941 and 1965. From the beginning he shot films on location depicting nature and wild-life, which was also the theme of his first feature film Det stora äventyret (The Great Adventure, 1953).
It is somewhat ironic that arguably the best films by this great nature filmmaker are the ones that take place in the city: the Academy Award winning short Människor i stad (Symphony of a City, 1947) and Mitt hem är Copacabana. It is as if his experience filming landscapes and animals, often spending many hours waiting for the right moment, made him able to reveal relations and configurations in cityscapes which other filmmakers were not able to see.
After the CinemaScope and colour India [song] En djungelsaga (The Flute and the Arrow, 1957, screened at Il Cinema Ritrovato in 2006), Sucksdorff returned to Sweden to make Pojken i trädet (The Boy in the Tree, 1961), his failed attempt at fiction filmmaking. In 1962 he agreed to go to Rio de Janeiro to participate in training organized by Unesco. He stayed, and in January 1964 started shooting Mitt hem är Copacabana. In visually striking and amazingly choreographed takes, where the movement of the camera acts in perfect harmony with the movements in front of the camera, he depicted the dreams, fears, joy and terrible conditions of four street kids as they spend their days in Babylon Hill favela and Copacabana beach. In the end, Sucksdorff may not indeed be the great renderer of nature and wild-life but of children; showing their innocence and hopes as well as their obstacles and hardships, whether they grow up north of the Polar circle, on the high plateaus of central India or in the favelas of Rio.
While conducting training in Brazil, he encountered Nelson Pereira dos Santos and others, and Sucksdorff is sometimes referred to as a father of cinéma nôvo. After Mitt hem är Copacabana he stayed in Brazil, making a television series on Pantanal in Mato Grosso.