December 12, 2013
THE MOVIE LOGTuesday, October 29, 2013
Moacir: an honest foray into a troubled success story
“The story of Moacir is unbelievable; the least it deserves is a film. He’s Brazilian, but is an Argentine citizen since 1984. He has a natural talent for singing and communicating emotions. He came to Argentina with a dream: to leave poverty behind and develop a musical career. The same year he arrived in Argentina, he registered 12 songs under his name. But he couldn’t do much since poverty and his mental disorders prevented him from seeing his dream come true. Twenty seven years later, his songs were rescued for this film. Among them, there are tangos, sambas, carnival songs and boleros,” said Argentine film director Tomás Lipgot about Moacir, his latest documentary recently released on DVD, accompanied by a CD with all of Moacir’s songs. Finally, his most cherished dream has come true.
Moacir, the film, is a heartfelt and appealing portrayal of a unique individual whose life has had plenty of hardships, and yet who’s managed to live to tell the tale — and not without a contagious sense of humour. It’s a difficult film to make, and yet a film that has turned out to be very accomplished. It’s a film that requires a strong narrative focus, but without ever leaving aside its deliberate and most alluring laid back attitude towards Moacir and his harsh life story. It so happens Moacir was an intern in the Borda Public Mental Hospital when Lipgot met him at the time of making Fortalezas, his first documentary. After much effort, the proper medical treatments, and a firm determination to overcome adversity, this unusual Brazilian singer is now out of the hospital and living his own life on a pension fund. And, finally, his songs have been commercially launched.
Filmmaker Lipgot has indeed tackled a subject with multiple facets and has paid careful attention to each of them in order to provide a depiction full of nuances. He masterly avoided all the elements that could have turned the film into a regular mental patient having a good break — and yet he didn’t avoid the real consequences of illness. He has chosen a dignified stance and has stuck to it to the very last frame — and it shows. As if this weren’t enough, in terms of film form, Moacir is precise, solid, and elaborate. But, above all, what makes Moacir, the film, such an enjoyable feature?
I’d say that it basically has to do with a splendid feeling of honesty and love towards Moacir. But don’t get me wrong: it’s not about being sentimental; instead it’s about being understanding and sensitive. Being downright sentimental usually gives way to sugarcoated depictions that prompt facile, superficial feelings — the kind of feelings you stop having once you’ve left the movie theatre. This is great and even required in a melodrama, but not in a genuine character study.
On the other hand, being understanding and sensitive has to do with connecting yourself to someone in a more profound and meditative fashion. It has to do with involving yourself in deeper levels of understanding to grasp hidden feelings that usually struggle to come to the surface. This film communicates the emotions Moacir himself communicates. So once you’re home, you keep thinking and caring for him, and, perhaps, even hope you can meet him and listen to him sing.