When my grandpa, Mr. Severino, presented me with my first Cordel (I was 12 years old), he said: "Son, these pamphlets save the stories that people tell on the streets, the ones that the mainstream media does not broadcast". It was the Cordel “The Arrival of Lampião in Hell” (José Pacheco), which said that Satan was so afraid of Lampião that he did not want to allow him to enter his kingdom. I said to my grandpa: “Satan, afraid of people? But in the Church, when the priest wants to make us pray, he says the opposite: that people should be afraid of Satan”. My grandfather just laughed.
A Cordel tells a particular version of the history - the version the popular poet chooses to show.
Cordel is a simple pamphlet, made of inexpensive paper, has strong colors, illustrated with xylography, is offered for sale in public markets hanging on strings (cordões) - hence the name Cordel. Cordel manifested itself in Brazil in the Eighteenth Century and there were already similar forms of Cordel in Portugal, Spain and Mexico. Cordel is literature but it's also oral tradition, poetry, music, theater, visual arts - and much more.
And what does Literatura de Cordel have to do with Cinemaissí?
Since its foundation, the festival has always aimed to show to the community of the Nordic countries, stories about Latin America "which the mainstream media does not broadcast". Inspired by Cordel, Cinemaissí seeks to be a source of popular information on the main issues in Latin America at the moment, with stories told by filmmakers who live there or who have been there. The festival wants to display particular versions for events - versions that the filmmakers choose to show.
Cordel as a source of information, by the way, was the inspiration for designer Felipe Gasnier to compose the image of Cinemaissí for this year. "I grew up in the punk rock environment and sought information from fanzines, at a time when there was still no internet. However, long before the success of fanzines (especially in the United States), Cordel was already doing something similar: disseminating information from sources on the fringes of the mainstream media. Here's my tribute to this rich part of Brazilian culture”, says Gasnier.
The 14th Edition of Cinemaissí has 15 films and a series of side events. “A more compact list of films allows the festival to address in more depth some important themes, such as women's audiovisual production, cultures of originary peoples, LGBTQ+ rights and various social movements”, says Carlos Marroquin, artistic director of Cinemaissí 2019, and adds: "A lean film selection allows the festival to more easily reflect on its role in society and what it seeks to say to the public".
See you in Cinemaissí, see you soon!
Ps. Seu Severino, a Brazilian who lived in the northeast region of the country, would be very happy seeing Literatura de Cordel inspiring Cinemaissí. This text is dedicated to him and to all those - from past and present times, wherever they may be - who voluntarily keep Cinemaissí alive and strong.