The Battle (dir. Vera Egito)
By: Adam Freed
Visionary Brazilian filmmaker Vera Egito was kind enough to sit with Movie Archer to discuss her powerful new film The Battle. The film makes its North American debut at the 59th Chicago International Film Festival.
The spark of resistance flickers bright within the hearts of the oppressed, the impoverished and the young. There are only so many days that can be spent witnessing repeated atrocities at the hand of a dictatorial government before the desire for change grows into a determined rebellion. Capturing the youthful passion for a better Brazil in her powerful new period piece film The Battle is virtuoso filmmaker Vera Egito. Fresh off of claiming the award for best feature film at the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival, The Battle presents the story of a 1968 political uprising on a college campus aimed to take down Brazil’s once tyrannical regime. Egito explains what drew her to the politically charged project, “The reality of the story spoke to me. It is a story about the fight against fascism and oppression…” Egito’s desire to ignite an awareness and passion through her film becomes a certainty when her artistic vision for storytelling is applied to the politically charged heartbeat of The Battle.
Where the film separates itself and Egito herself as a storyteller, is through the visually distinct style in which her movie is conveyed. Composing a film entirely of 21 separate continuous shots proved no small task for the production, but added to its overwhelmingly realistic feel, “We saw a lot of images that were made on 16mm from that moment…it was like the cellphone [camera] of that time. The idea comes from constructing a reality that we were there, experiencing what [the characters] were experiencing.” Egito weaponizes the documentary style capabilities of single shot filmmaking to allow audiences to flow through the story’s increasingly treacherous events. Great directors have an intuition for not only what stories to tell, but how to best convey them to an audience, a skill that Vera Egito seems to have mastered.
Dismissing The Battle as an outdated relic of Brazilian history would be a tragic oversight, as the themes of the period film take on an all too contemporary global significance. “In Brazil we have a short memory,” Egito explains, “We think of the past as a good thing, despite it being very bad…this is a message for all generations who may have forgotten about the dictatorship…or for those who desire its return.” Audience reaction to the film has become a global wildfire after netting top prize in Rio. “[Winning in Rio de Janeiro] was amazing for me…it was very emotional. Rio de Janeiro is the biggest festival in Brazil, so this is a really big deal for the film.” Following its successful North American premiere in Chicago, The Battle spreads its significant message to Europe as an official entry at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain. As her memorable film builds momentum onto its third continent, it brings with it the spark of revolution, a spark that lives deep within the mind and artistic eye of Vera Egito.
Target Score: 8/10 - Writer and director Vera Egito uses a daring and distinct visual style to tell the true to life story about a 1968 Brazilian political rebellion. Told using 21 continuous shots, The Battle feels every part a work of found footage. Emotionally connective and visually dynamic, this is a Brazilian feature that should not be missed.