Brazil Democracy Human Rights International Reviews

Nathália Urban Reviews – The Edge of Democracy

I just finished watching The Edge of Democracy (Netflix) directed by the filmmaker Petra Costa, in short the film shows the critical points that led to the rise of the extreme right in Brazil today, but not forgetting its painful past with the military dictatorship.

I could try to keep myself impersonal while I’m writing this review, but it is an issue that touches me deeply. I grew up in a family that hid the marks that the military dictatorship left, I was always somewhat left in the dark about it, but I remember very well when I’ve started studying sociology at the University, and my grandmother panicked when she saw me carrying a copy of the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy from Marx in my bag, she was visibly dismayed and said that it was not safe to carry the book in public. I laughed, said that Lula was the president (I hardly knew) and that we were doing a discussion about Marx at the University.

Just like me, Petra Costa, also had a family background that was tumultuous with the dictatorship, although in a different level, her parents had been socialist militants against the regime, one of the most touching moments that made me cry was when the former President Dilma Rousseff was talking to Petra’s mother about her experience in prison and the torture she suffered.

Although the documentary had a politically left-wing view of the situation, it is interesting to see the criticisms that have been made regarding Lula’s government, especially when it shows that the former President eventually gave in and changed his speech to appease large corporations and banks, after previously losing 3 elections because he remained more aligned to the working class origins of the Worker’s Party. This ended up being the collapse of the Worker’s Party, because when Dilma Roussef (Lula’s successor) was shown to be interested in reducing favoritism to banks and corporations, the coup began to be put on action.

In my humble opinion, one of the parts that bothered me most was the one that shows Roussef was alone, depressed and shaken during the process that anticipated her impeachment, when in my view she faced everything with great dignity and with an overwhelming force, perhaps out of respect the filmmaker did not want to mention the whole campaign of misogynist hatred that was being made against the then president, by the media and her opponents.

It was very painful to “watch again” the impeachment process vote in the Chamber of Deputies, a true horror show.

And the terror does not end there, interesting after the recent reports from The Intercept, all the collusion and dirty agreements that the Justice Department (I loved the shout-out that the film made to the fact that Judge Moro has been “trained” by the USA) to make accusations and the arrest of Lula, after the politician announced that he had intentions to run for the 2018 elections.

Petra Costa, says that although she came from an upper middle class family with members who voted for Bolsonaro, have had essentially a left-wing political education thanks to her parents.

But the most interesting part was to see the testimonies of people who thank Lula and Dilma for their social ascension. Lula is seen by millions of Brazilians, not only as a president but as an almost legendary figure, and this angle has been captured perfectly, especially in the part that shows the despair of his fellow trade unionists when the former president makes a speech saying he would surrender to the Police, “because he believed in the power of justice,” you can feel the pain, the revolt and the sadness of a suffering crowd who had only recently experienced the fresh breath of hope and freedom, something that in Brazil’s current political situation seems like a long lost dream.



By Nathália Urban (@urbannathalia)

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