Documentary shows the paradox
of sexual liberty in Brazil

By Patricia Moribe - Published on 21-03-2017 Modified on 22-03-2017 at 20:51

A scene from “Sexo, Pregações e Política”, by Aude Chevalier-Beaumel and Michael Gimenez.

One of the strongest stereotypes of Brazil's image outside the country is sexual freedom, extravagant sensuality. The French duo of filmmakers - Aude Chevalier-Beaumel and Michael Gimenez - decided to tackle this issue, the result is an intense documentary about a Brazil in motion, but with its contradictions, in the context of the alarming increase of the Evangelicals in the national political scene.

Special correspondent from Toulouse

« Sex Sermons and Politics », a Franco-Brazilian production, is competing for the Best Documentary Award at the Festival Cinelatino de Toulouse, in the South-West of France.

The film begins with the staging of a case that shocked Brazil in 2014, the death of Jandira Magdalena dos Santos Cruz, 27 years old. Pregnant, she went to an illegal abortion clinic in the suburb of Rio de Janeiro and her body was found mutilated and charred. The repercussions of this case led to Operation Herod, of the Federal Police, to dismantle abortion clinics. All the characters interviewed are confronted with the same question: "Who killed Jandira?".

A taboo issue

"We started filming instinctively during the legislative and presidential campaigns," says Aude, who is been living in Brazil for ten years. They realized that the issue of abortion was not addressed by presidential candidates, on the other hand, some evangelical candidates in the legislative elections saw the potential of votes they could win by brandishing the banner of the "against".

The duo interviewed ultra conservative evangelical candidates like Marco Feliciano, Silas Malafaia and Jair Bolsonaro. For Gimenez, the latter, career soldier, ex-Catholic, converted during the electoral race, was the most shocking. "I knew there was machismo in Brazil, but not at that extreme, and especially with so much popularity."

The counterpoint of the defense of abortion and the fight against gender bias is brought by testimonies from candidates on the other side of the spectrum, such as Jean Wyllys (PSOL) and representatives of social and humanitarian movements. "A very courageous person with a rare wide vision of the world," says Gimenez on Wyllys, openly gay, who made himself known by participating in the show Big Brother. "The issue of homosexuality entered the dining room of the Brazilians. The audience liked me and had to deal with it, "recalls Wyllys in the documentary.

Comparisons with France

The audience of the festival applauded the film and proposed parallels with the situation in France. "You have to make a film about corruption here, you will see a lot of things," joked a spectator to the question-and-answer session.

Aude agrees that posing as an independent and foreign team has facilitated access to the characters. "But, at the same time, they liked the idea of appearing outside of the country," she says. "And the speech was the same, whether it was during worship or during the talks," she adds.

"Sex Sermons and Politics" was presented at the Brasilia Film Festival and the Mostra de São Paulo. In Brazil, it will be broadcast by Canal Brasil.

Translation: Michael Gimenez and Aude Chevalier-Beaumel

Original article in Portugese here