Opening Night: É Noite na América (It is Night in America)
Ana Vaz | 2022 | Italy, Brazil, France | 66’ | 16mm to digital | Portuguese spoken, English subtitles
Filmed in the zoo of Brasília, home to hundreds of species rescued in the city (giant anteaters, maned wolves, owls, wood foxes, capybaras, caracaras…), É noite na América is a reverse ethnography that foregrounds the non-human perspective of animals – those original inhabitants of a city that was dreamt for the future but built on a legacy of violence and displacement. As a headline in the local newspaper reads: “are animals invading our cities, or rather are we occupying their habitat?” Vaz returns to the subject of her native Brasília (which she explored in early films such as Sacris Pulso and A Idade da Pedra) and furthers her ongoing project of subverting the traditional power dynamics between filmmaker, camera and filmed subject – and between sound and image. The animals, a vital presence in many of Vaz’s films, are not only the subjects of our gaze; they too are watching us. Blue is the dominant colour; the underexposure a result of working with old and expired 16mm film, and also an allusion to the “day for night” technique which in French is called “nuit américaine” (“American night”), because of its prevalence in low-budget American movies, particularly westerns. É noite na América is a nocturnal western that blurs perspectives.
“Midnight blue. The creatures return to the city. They nest in the parking lots. They glorify the inhabitants’ garbage in a nocturnal feast that escapes the tyranny of the sun, the monuments, the roads, the edifications. Animalistic spell cast against the empire of death in the dead of the American night: time that turns day into night.”
– Ana Vaz