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intersections between cinema, literature and history
The IntermIdia project explores the intersections between cinema, literature and history in the Universidade do Algarve
On the 20th and 21st of October 2016, the IntermIdia project was represented by a keynote speech and a panel at the international conference “Europe and the Colonial Empires of the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries in Literature and Film”. The conference was held in Faro (Portugal) and organised by the Research Centre on Arts and Communication (CIAC) of the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences of the Universidade do Algarve, and the Centre of Literature and Lusophon and European Cultures (CLEPUL) of the Faculty of Humanities of the Universidade de Lisboa. The conference dealt with the relations between literature and film, as well as their crucial role in the representation of history; these approaches have gained a strong relevance in the last years due to the strengthening of the inter-arts studies in academia, and some phenomenons of the market such as the reappearance of the historical, or historically themed novel, and the long-time popularity of the historical film. The conference paid particular attention to the topic of colonial empires, but its scope included the dialogue between arts, and between arts and history, from a general perspective.
Professor Lúcia Nagib (University of Reading), Principle Investigator on the IntermIdia Project, delivered a keynote speech entitled “Anthropophagy and Intermediality: uses of colonial literature in modernist Brazilian cinema”. The keynote addressed the relations between anthropophagy and intermediality by studying the film How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman (Como era gostoso o meu francês, 1970-72), directed by Nelson Pereira dos Santos during the Brazilian military dictatorship. The film, which is inspired by the existence of cannibalism in the Brazil of the sixteenth century and based on the particular story of Hans Staden, is built with a tropicalist collage of different books of European colonial literature, including works by Staden, Jean de Léry, André Thevet, Nicolas de Villegagnon, José de Anchieta and Manoel da Nóbrega, as well as poems and culinary recipes from that time. In her talk, Nagib addressed how the non-hierarchical assemblage of these materials provides the film with a political value which goes beyond the defeatism of Brazilian left-wing movements at that point in history.
Secondly, the panel titled ‘Intermediality and History in Brazilian Cinema’ was focused in the relation between cinema and history from the perspective of intermediality, taking particular account of colours and songs. The first paper titled, “The Transition to Colour in Antonio das Mortes“, by Dr. Stefan Solomon (University of Reading) explored Antonio das Mortes (O Dragão da Maldade contra o Santo Guerreiro, 1969), the first colour film by Glauber Rocha, by considering the history of cinematic colour and its expression of either realism or artificiality. In the second paper titled, “The filmed song as a historical account”, Dr. Albert Elduque (University of Reading) departed from the film Cartola – Música para os olhos (Lírio Ferreira and Hilton Lacerda, 2007) in order to study how the filmed songs in Brazilian documentaries can approach history in two different ways: by interacting with archive images and by sketching generational relations with new performers for old songs.
Therefore, both the keynote speech and the panel analysed cinema and history from the perspective of intermediality; be it through anthropophagy, colour or songs, they explored how the interaction between different arts makes possible a new and rich approach to history, offering an alternative to traditional accounts. In this way, in the context of studies on history, literature and film, intermediality was presented as a strong and promising historiographical method.