One MPB fan, film director Luis Bolognesi, 56, saw (or rather heard) a funk popping his signal bubble through the ears of his daughters, who were aged 12 and 14, in mid-2016. The tunes are played in the car, at parties birthdays and even at his production company’s film release events.
“This sparked a lot of curiosity. I thought the music had an incredible quality, but I was shocked by some of the lyrics. I loved some. Others left me terrified,” Bolognese said in a video interview last Tuesday (23). “But before you judged, that song always touched me.”
At the time, research had already shown that funk was indeed the musical style that young people in the country listened to.
It was then that the director concluded that he should study this phenomenon further. Therefore, it was necessary to understand the origins of the rhythm that reshaped the ancient black parties in Rio de Janeiro.
Under the influence of electronic music produced in Germany by the band Kraftwerk, hit in the United States by Miami Bass, reached in Brazil by international scene recordings and exploded in the massive sound boxes of Furacão 2000 dances where black culture, similar to samba drums and candomblé, is recognized and her accession.
Then the director went to the field to hear some of the major names of debuts like Tony Tornado, DJ Marlboro and Cedinho.
He approached the 90s with Buchecha and Bonde do Tigrão and reached modern phenomena, from Valesca Popozuda to MC Carol and Ludmilla, passing through MC Bin Laden, MC Guimê and the Kondzilla gang, the producer of songs and videos that made YouTube the show of Brazilian funk, not just Carioca, to the world .
The result was the documentary series Funk.doc: Popular & Forbidden, which airs today on HBO Max.
Director of award-winning films, such as “The Last Forest” about the Yanomami peoples, and screenwriter of feature films such as “Bicho de Sete Cabeças,” Bolognesi says he arrived at the funk through subjective paths, motivated by his interest in girls, as well as his objectivity. As an anthropologist, he says he has sought to understand funk heroes not based on their values, but based on the way the “other” sees the world.
For this, it was also necessary to get rid of the biases that had to be exposed and challenged in the first interviews.
“Funk is a complex phenomenon that aroused my interest very objectively because of the desire to understand Brazilian culture. My educated friends will say: ‘Why are you going to do a series about funk?'” This erotic and misogynistic music? “I consider this a prejudice after I got close to the funk people. It wasn’t me who stripped myself of my prejudices.
In fact, those who watch the series do not notice the director’s voice, which never appears. It is the artists, producers, and scientists of this phenomenon who have the free space to speak.
“I got to MC Guimê and asked why he flaunted his fortune in a poor country like Brazil. I heard great answers. He told me his story, and he remembered when he didn’t even have the money to buy Havaianas flip-flops,” he recalls.
“Consumer goods have always rubbed against the popular classes. Showing off is a response to this humiliation.” Louis Bolognese
“In the same way, when I talk about masculinity, I decided to listen to women (there is a chapter dedicated only to female funk voices) and show how they use music to say very strong things against masculinity and racism,” he explains.
“Funk has some horrifying words, but that’s in the world. Brazil is sexist, and the world is sexist. And racist. This is reflected in funk. But to say that funk is ignorance. In funk, the voice of resistance triumphs with extraordinary breadth and strength.”
Proof of this, according to the film’s director, is that the funk overturned the historical logic in Brazil, according to which it is the elite that determines what the popular classes should consume.
“Today, the broken is what says what is consumed in Brazil. And the elite consume it, as it was in the samba era. They say all the time: ‘We dictate the culture of the country.’ What is the culture of their country. The values, the clothes they wear, how they wear their hats or cut their eyebrows. And this song will be played at the judge’s fifteenth birthday party.”
The series begins at a time when a group of books devoted to funk also begins to gain traction in the publishing market. An example is the work “Funk on Rhythm – Bailly, Roa y Parliament” (Edições Sesc), by Danilo Semrot.
Polonisi attributes this increased interest to the need to understand how funk has become the music most consumed by Brazilian youth. “This raises interest across the board.”
He says the main factor is economic. “Everything that shines economically becomes respectable and schooled. And funk shines economically. It’s a very important industry because it distributes income. A lot of money goes to the slums through artists, DJs, parties and music videos.”
Another explanation, he says, is the context of repression against black culture and the popular movements that the current government embodies.
The director recalls that in the 1970s, there was a frightening prophecy that one day the slums would come down the hill and present themselves to Brazil.
“It happened, but not with the razor. He went down the hill with music and conquered the country. A lot changes for the better through funk. It’s a culture that very clearly faces some very oppressive rules. Funk at the ends is a liberal voice, accepting of others and converts of all faiths. Funk is polyphonic. Artists adapt new technologies to make their music and confront conservative, racist, reactionary, and intolerant narratives.”
Anitta, funk, agribusiness and sertanejo
Bolognese He says he notes a kind of intolerance of the so-called “agricultural and certingo world” of the culture produced by the extremities. Repression occurs due to differing worldviews.
“Agriculture is an economy in which income is concentrated. It generates wealth for Brazil, it has a huge impact on GDP and that is indisputable. But the income is not distributed. It is a sector that employs very few people on farms. There is no tax incentive.” Criticizes.
“It’s a joke that someone would want to talk about the Rowan Act with the amount of tax relief, including the financial system, to focus agricultural income on the front. There is a very clear ideological clash.”
He points out, however, that the funk had the acumen to dodge this clash.
“Funk has infiltrated the rhythm of the country. It’s everywhere. It’s in Foro, Sertanejo, Briga, the Gospel. Funk has the ability to take its opposite and conquer, and seduce. It’s a skill,” he says. The outlet, which compares the ability of the surrounding population to change the tide without colliding with capoeira.
“Music producers in Sertanejo are looking for funk producers all the time. DJs ask for tunes. There are videos of people from the country calling funkeiros to play with and vice versa. This means that you can resist the fight without the brutal confrontation, without facing the weapon.”
“Funk is infiltrating and making revolution from the inside out. Marilia Mendonca herself was having this conversation with the funk girls and said ‘I’m also a feminist.’” Funk and Sertanejo are on a path and they meet as a voice and a culture” concludes
The biggest reference in funk today, singer Anitta recently shared a series of attacks produced by country singers identified with Jair Bolsonaro.
For Bolognesi, groups trying to create a split between funk and sertanejo only seek to “organize their narrative”. “But that doesn’t work. In the musical world, there is no such clash. On the contrary. Funk has already conquered agriculture. Between Bolsonaro and Anitta, Brazil remains with Anitta.”
Anyone who watches the series will see one of the last appearances of MC Catra, the singer-songwriter who died in September 2018. “It was an amazing encounter,” says Polonisi.
“MC Catra was already ill and could only receive us because he had an improvement in hospital. […] He greeted us and those watching can see the potency, strength, humor and love he had for funk. MC Catra was one of the voices that stripped me of my prejudice.”
During the encounter, in a scene that ended up without editing in the series, the director asked if the interviewee had not thought of a scene in which he swiped a credit card on the buttocks of women during a misogynistic presentation.
“He started looking at me crookedly, like ‘What’s that white guy talking about?’ “I thought he’d hit my ass. But he said the performance is a way to show a woman’s strength. And when you put a card in a woman’s buttocks, no one can take it out. You’re biased,” he replied.
After the interview, Bolognese said that they fell in love with each other. They set out to perfect a fantasy series based on the life of MC Catra. “Let’s do it soon,” said the artist, “because I don’t have much time.”
He would start work from a series of testimonials that would be given in his house to the director, but the idea was only in the plans. Katra died shortly after her second hospital admission.
“I lost the main reason for doing this fantasy series. The idea was to do the series with him. It’s the way I love working. Unfortunately we lost a great genius and so did this series.”
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