Antes o Tempo não Acabava (Time Was Endless)Berlin Film Festival 2016
Antes o Tempo não Acabava has a dream-like documentary quality that is, at times, captivating and, at others, confusing. But, it does succeed in powerfully evoking the implications that the clash between traditional shamanism and modernity has on the protagonist.
Directors Fabio Baldo and Sergio Andrade begin the film with a traditional rite of passage ceremony consisting of young adolescents wearing ant-filled gloves and dancing. Positioning it at the start implies the importance of its traumatising influence on central character Anderson’s evolution. This is not a film that holds back: it is intense from beginning to end. The camera captures the event and atmosphere in the opening scene on a minute level; every part of the ceremony, whether significant or not, is recorded with powerful realism.
There is a clash throughout between modern and shaman cultures. The tradition in the first scene is shattered in the second where an older Anderson is working in a factory; in another moment he is playing a game on a phone, the next, tribal leaders are trying to sacrifice his niece. It is this mishmash of scenes that stops the film running smoothly, but also creatively expresses the disharmony of this young man’s existence. The soundtrack intensifies this dual element: electronic music is contrasted with traditional chants, bringing to life both cultures and highlighting their differences.
Antes o Tempo não Acabava has taken the common themes of adolescence and rediscovery of identity and explored them in a very original way. It is not a lighthearted film, but its difference from others, especially blockbusters, is what makes it so interesting. Its authenticity is its greatest charm – it is difficult to connect with Anderson at times, just as it would be in real life. Through skilful acting he becomes a real person, not the Hollywood character we are programmed to like. The production walks unfamiliar territory; the fact its unfamiliarity remains unexplained adds to its alluring mysticism. It’s not an easy watch, but it is one to watch.
Antes o Tempo não Acabava (Time Was Endless) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Antes o Tempo não Acabava (Time Was Endless) here: