Half Brother – a story of deception, deceit, and discovery
Sandra’s mother has been missing for days. Disoriented and without money, she asks Jorge, her distant half brother, for help, but he is going through a difficult situation. After recording a homophobic attack, he is being threatened to not release the images.
Half Brother began its gestation in 2008, when I returned to São Paulo after four years in Rio de Janeiro. With acquired distance and perspective on the city where I had been born and grew up and – more important – a daughter who was 12 years old at the time, I found I had a different viewpoint on my native city’s realities and the conflicts experienced by youth in its urban environments.
These young people, coming of age in developing countries’ metropolises, find they’ve got pre-scripted roles in the machinery of consumption and media. Space for individuality and the capacity to make impact on society have become quite unattainable. Lack of hope in the future and of faith in democratic institutions confine this generation within a vast dystopia. What is left is a state of suspension, a persistent hope for things that aren’t even on the horizon.
The reactions by these youth who inhabit the gaps of uncertainty became acutely visible in the demonstrations that occupied Brazil’s streets in 2013—and then dissipated as fast as they had appeared, confirming aspects of ephemerality.
Half Brother, the film, contemplates this suspension, an emotional state in which people are compelled to go on without rational explanations and with little chance of gaining control over their own realities. In this anguishing and anxiety-ridden condition it is hard to project a future because those living it are anchored to uncertainty.
This suspension is a fixture of life in today’s world. Exhaustion of the environment, growth of emergent totalitarianisms, and the widening abyss that separates spheres of power from ordinary daily lives have profound impacts on the individual. In their actions, Half Brother’s characters’ reflect and echo this situation and the feelings it provokes: fear, angst and vulnerability, but also compassion, desire, and lucidity.
The film’s plot grew out of a desire to address the voids and gaps of the hearts and minds of those who must coexist in highly competitive, ever more virtual urban environments burdened with huge social challenges, keeping it’s focus on the lower-middle-class youth who live in São Paulo, one of the huge cities of the developing world.
This constituency is seldom portrayed in Brazilian cinema, despite the fact that it comprises an enormous population. Putting this context at the center of its narrative, the film gives visibility to specific social questions, among them urban violence, the absence of viable public space in the periphery of the city, the difficulties of exerting sexuality, and subtle forms of racial unease.
Figuring prominently in the film’s discourse and debate is ubiquitous surveillance by security cameras, demarcating the fine line between the demand for more powerful tools to combat violence and the perverse control of citizens.
Engaging in questions that impact people and their lives, the film establishes a connecting point for the viewer to the story, stimulating reflection on the themes and issues addressed, and it also constitutes a space for artistic creation, at times sparking questions that may reach beyond the story’s original intentions.
Half Brother is Eliane Coster’s debut feature length film. She received a B.A. in Film from the School of Communications and Arts at the University of São Paulo and worked for 15 years as a photographer in many of the main Brazilian media outlets. During this period, she also had four photography shows.
Five of her seven short films were made with funding acquired through prizes for documentaries and short films. All of her films were selected for film festivals in Brazil and abroad and some have received important awards such as Best Film, for “Super OldBoy” at the Gramado Film Festival (Brazil), in 2016, and Best Documentary for “São Paulo and the Hours” at the CineRail film festival (France), in 2010.
In her films, her main interests revolve around human vulnerability in the face of the concrete reality that surrounds us. Her characters are usually slightly dislocated from conventional behavior standardized by society and, because of that, they will usually react in unexpected ways. Even though the themes tackled by her films are dense and complex, the narratives are intertwined with humor, irony and irreverence.
She teaches at the Image and Sound Department at São Carlos Federal University and, achieved her M.A. in Contemporary Art at the Rio de Janeiro State University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Arts at the Art Institute of the University of Campinas, having had a period of research at Sorbonne Paris Nouvelle III University, until May 2018.
Winner of two awards at the São Paulo International Film Festival, including “Best Brazilian Fiction Feature Film” and “Best Film by First-Time Director”, Half Brother will be available on Amazon, Vudu, and through local cable & satellite providers, as well as DVD.
Available from Breaking Glass Pictures.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.