Variety Film Review:‘Future June’
Brazilian docmaker Maria Augusta Ramos'superb
new film traces the varying economic plights of four
Sao Paolo residents.
A rigorous sociology lesson without one iota of teacherly rhetoric,
Maria Augusta Ramos’ superb new documentary “Future June”
instead counts on penetrating powers of perception to lay bare
the economic imbalances ailing contemporary Brazil. After taking
on the addled Brazilian justice system in her three previous
features, Ramos once more holds national institutions —
including the police and transport systems — tacitly to account as
she highlights the country’s flailing infrastructure in the run-up to
hosting 2014’s soccer World Cup. But it’s the film’s rich personal
focus, tracing the daily travails of four Sao Paolo workers across
a range of classes and pay grades, that elevates “Future June” to
the uppermost tier of recent financial-crisis docs.
Ramos’ five previous features have made her an acclaimed fixture on
the nonfiction festival circuit; following its world premiere at the Rio fest,
her sixth will undoubtedly impress doc programmers across the globe.
International distribution, however, has largely eluded her work thus far,
and “Future June” hardly ducks the commercial challenges of passive
perspective and intensive local focus. Still, the pic could gain added
exposure ahead of Rio de Janeiro’s hosting of next year’s Summer
Olympic Games, with the World Cup-aggravated politics raised here
still pertinent as the country readies for another international close-up.
“If you don’t serve the people, there will be no World Cup,” a crowd
chants during one documented protest; the tournament may have gone
ahead, but Ramos’ quietly bristling film is loath to suggest that the
people’s problems have been solved.
As in her past work, the helmer’s technique is wholly observational,
with the film free of interviews, narration or other editorializing input.
Rather, a discreetly but astutely placed camera captures telling
physical and conversational interactions in the private sphere, while
offering viewers a long view of fractious public activity: Scenes of
heated mass demonstrations and disorder are all the more powerful for
the absence of verbal reportage. Even shorn of political context,
“Future June” would offer auds a rare, representative look at the
heaving metropolis of Sao Paolo in everyday motion — beginning with
an immersive aerial sweep over its densely tower-spiked skyline,
before zeroing in on its street-level conflicts.
Gradually, Ramos’ four human subjects are introduced going about
their daily business. Andre Perfeito is a wealthy financial analyst,
skeptical about the country’s “self-sabotaging” economic policies even
as his own life remains comparatively unaffected; feeling the pinch at
the other end of the scale are car factory laborer Anderson Dos Anjos
and motorcycle courier Alex Cientista, the latter struggling to support
his wife and young epileptic son. Taking a more proactive approach to
his financial difficulties — and getting grimly burned in the process — is
subway worker Alex Fernandes, who becomes a vocal leader in his
union’s strike for fairer wages, called mere weeks ahead of the World
In observing the differing levels of awareness and emergency in the
lives of these unrelated men, the pic keenly draws attention to a
population-wide sense of disillusionment with government regime,
without resorting to banal, hectoring dualities. The pragmaticallyminded
Perfeito is no more demonized for his privilege than Fernandes
is sanctified for his righteousness. Nonetheless, Ramos and editor
Karen Akerman have a devastating way with a cut: The sharp contrast
between Cientista’s cramped family kitchen and the amber-and-onyx
surrounds of a restaurant where Perfeito goes on a dinner date
negates the need for direct social commentary. Elsewhere, Cientista
and his friends ruefully bemoan the fact that World Cup tickets have
been priced out of their reach; later, Perfeito’s nonchalant attendance
of a match puts a silent period on their point.
While there’s a chilling urgency to much of Ramos’ footage — notably
scenes of aggressive police action on protesters that, in light of recent
news events, will resonate far beyond Brazilian borders — there’s
ample room for sidelong humor too. At one point, Cientista and his wife
discuss purchasing a funeral plan with a saleswoman who gormlessly
promises “an offer [they] can’t refuse”: a drawer in a communal vault for
a monthly payment equivalent to their mortgage. As in much of the best
documentary filmmaking, it’s hard to believe such vignettes aren’t
Meanwhile, Ramos refuses to use raw reality as an alibi for sloppy
aesthetics. Whether headily following the courier’s bike through Sao
Paolo’s notoriously congested streets or standing coolly back from the
madding crowd, Camila Freitas and Lucas Barbi’s deep-toned lensing
is carefully composed throughout, yet spontaneously sensitive to
background activity in the subjects’ home and work environments.
Film Review: 'Future June'
Reviewed at Rio Film Festival (Premiere Brasil Competition), Oct. 4, 2015. (Also in
Yamagata Documentary Festival — competing.) Running time: 100 MIN. (Original
title: "Futuro Junho")
(Documentary — Brazil-The Netherlands) A Nofoco Filmes, Selfmade Films,
VPRO production. Produced by Maria Augusta Ramos, Niek Koppen, Jan De
Directed, written by Maria Augusta Ramos. Camera (color), Camila Freitas, Lucas
Barbi; editor, Karen Akerman; sound, Gabi Cunha, Ricardo Zollner; supervising
sound editor, Edson Secco; re-recording mixer, Secco.
Andre Perfeito, Anderson Dos Anjos, Alex Cientista, Alex Fernandes. (Portuguese
Original link: http://variety.com/2015/film/festivals/future-june-review-1201610182/