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Text originally published in BIMIFF Magazine’s 6th issue (available at

Film analysis written by Victor "Vic Kings" Reis

What is the result of the encounter of two major divas of Brazilian independent cinema, one in front of, the other behind the camera? The answer to this question comes in its purest shape: art in audiovisual format, through the film "Romance," directed and written by Karine Teles, a well-known face in film festivals in Brazil and around the world in works such as "Loveling" (Gustavo Pizzi, 2018), "Bacurau" (Kléber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles, 2019), "The Second Mother" (Anna Muylaert, 2015), "The Other End" (Felipe Sholl, 2016), among many others.

The short film that had its premiere at the 2021 Rio Film Festival brings in its protagonist Juliana, masterfully played by Gilda Nomacce, a visceral and poetic force both for its poignant and intense script, as in the powerful and fluid direction of Teles, which has in its cast, its cinematography (by Pedro Faerstein), and editing (by Lívia Serpa), the biggest highlights.

In this narrative, Juliana, a journalist aware of her independence and freedom in all senses, has during an intense day back to work, a series of meetings and mismatches with lovers who, in a certain way, try to control her, or simply have her; but like running water, Nomacce's fascinating character, moves away from these possible emotional and physical captivities that aim to contain her impetus, her sexuality, ultimately, her free will.

This visual letter addressed as an anti-patriarchy manifesto finds enormous vigor in Nomacce's expressions and words, especially when acting with her cast mates. Juliana's lovers - in sequence Paulo (Bruno Balthazar), Luís (Enrique Diaz), and João (Antônio Carrara) - try to apply explicit and disguised restrictions to the woman's body, mind, and heart.

Juliana's column entitled "Receitas da Vó Pagu" (Recipes of Grandma Pagu) immediately evokes the legendary figure of Patrícia Rehder Galvão, an artist and activist who, by denying her bourgeois roots and privileges, shocked the Brazilian society of the early 20th century with her power and independence, unusual at a time when women were idealized as "beautiful, discreet and homely". Just like Pagu, Juliana brings polemics to our current society that, even a century later, still looks down on a woman who understands and enjoys her autonomy, especially when she is a mature female, who is even more stigmatized by a sexist, patriarchal, and ageist culture.

Women like Juliana have been seen throughout history as witches, prostitutes, salacious, unlovable, and so many other adjectives and nouns that serve only as ways to cage their pleasures, their pains, and also their selves. Even after being burned on bonfires, stoned in public squares, hanged, shot, and imprisoned, the voices and roots of these historic and eternal women have been inherited by their following generations. From suffragettes to pioneers, from solo mothers to activists, may the feminist movement and the fight against patriarchy continue with increasing strength and presence around the world. The empowerment of women, as well as the fight for gender equality, and the actions that condemn femicide, harassment, and misogyny, continue and will continue to figure in the next pages of human History, and it is our role, as a society, to ensure that it is no longer in the police reports that the names of cis and trans women appear, but in the headlines of achievements in the most diverse areas: from politics to sports, from arts to science, illustrating in practice the phrase "a woman's place is where she wants to be".

"Romance" closes Juliana's chaotic day with the protagonist being sieged and leashed by the kidnappers of her freedom. However, this is not the end of the character, but au contraire. "To be radical means to grab things by the root," this quote by Angela Davis paraphrased from Karl Marx is quoted by Juliana in her column, and doing justice to the Black Panther, the woman frees herself. To the sound of Ludwig van Beethoven's 9th Symphony in D Minor Op 125, Nomacce's bloodstained visage and body appear on the screen. Bare-busted and dazed, the woman stares at the camera, which gets closer and closer to her blood-streaked face. Her fierce and serious expression takes on forms of relief as the medium close-up becomes a close-up, translating into the ecstasy of her freedom in the woman's eyes and smile.

Watching Juliana's saga I can only remember the verses of Caetano Veloso in his song "Tigresa" (Tigress) which narrates in its melodic strophes an ode to female freedom, and that in the eyes of Nomacce's and Teles' Juliana one can read that "(...) at the same time she says that everything will change/Because she'll be what she wants to be, inventing a place/Where people and nature will always live happily together/And the tigress can do more than the lion".

By Victor “Vic Kings” Reis


*A.N.: Title based on the political pamphlet “Verdade e Liberdade” (Truth and Freedom) by Patrícia Rehder Galvão “Pagu”, 1950.


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