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Partners Member Reviews Mostra Film – Amazônia Groove

By Brian Fahey

As a documentary film about the people and culture of Brazil’s far north, Amazônia Groove sings. As a lush celebration of its song and spirit, the film sweeps us up in its dance.

Crafted in striking (and award-winning) cinematography, the film flows from one intimate portrait to another of the many different musicians and musical styles which grace and express the spiritual roots of the Amazonian people, all cast against overarching images of the Amazon River and the cities which have grown there. It was startling to learn how isolated this region has been from the rest of Brazil throughout its history. Indeed, it was only their radios which brought to them the rich tapestry of Caribbean music which, in turn, guided their own indigenous styles.

“Mainland” Brazilian music has had little influence on how they grew, musically or spiritually, until recent years. Now, modern teleconnections exert a growing influence, especially among the young. Both influences are at work, but they don’t clash. The people and their pipers are growing a new culture which blends the traditional rhythms and themes which have guided their music for so long, with the emerging energies and hot tempos of electronica.

Underneath both is their spiritual culture, strong and vibrant, reflecting the unique panoramas the forest and rivers offer. The film opens with a very long and languid shot, filmed by a camera mounted drone gliding down a tributary until it overtakes a procession of boats joined in celebration and flowery pageantry. We don’t know why; it is enough that we see the them joined in their joy. The director, Bruno Murtinho, jumps us to urban landscapes and its many intimate spaces where musicians play and create, and we are treated to their many songs. The film ends, once again, with a wide, leisurely shot of the forests and mighty river which give expression to their spirits and bind them together. I was captured and stunned by this documentary.

We were told after the showing that there are discussions to offer the film throughout Amazon and elsewhere. If this happens, this documentary should find a home in the collections of all those who would seek to understand the heart of northern Brazil.

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