The consignment of industrial wage labor and its central figures to the status of ruins has become something of a cliché in contemporary scholarship and artistic practice. On this view, its demise first became apparent in the 1970s, the precise moment when Brazilian labor movements experienced their first significant gains. This article identifies, describes, and analyzes the emergence of a cinema-labor cycle in São Paulo (1977–82) that constitutes a key instance of Brazil’s “deferred 1968”: a complex response to the distinct pressures of a repressive military regime, entrenched paternalistic union structures, and the auteurist legacy in cinema. In their efforts to apprehend the largest strikes in recent history, filmmakers in the cinema-labor cycle attempted what had seemed elusive in Brazilian cinema up until this point: a mutually constituting alliance between cinema and labor. This article focuses above all on the new understandings of time—including urgency, immediacy, the present tense, and the belated—forged in these films, and the new relationships that emerged among artists and worker-activists as a result. Ultimately, an analysis of this film cycle queries attempts to inscribe both cinema and labor in the past tense.
Brazil’s Deferred 1968: Timing the Cinema-Labor Cycle (1977–82)
Sarah Ann Wells is associate professor in the English department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is author of Media Laboratories: Late Modernist Authorship in South America (2017) and coeditor of Simultaneous Worlds: Global Science Fiction Cinema (2015).
Sarah Ann Wells; Brazil’s Deferred 1968: Timing the Cinema-Labor Cycle (1977–82). South Atlantic Quarterly 1 July 2020; 119 (3): 493–509. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-8601362
Download citation file: