Waiting for the Carnival (Estou Me Guardando Para Quando O Carnaval Chegar)
Toritama is the self-proclaimed jeans capital and home to Marcelo Gomes’s hauntingly beautiful documentary, Waiting for the Carnival. From the seemingly endless dusty landscape of northeastern Brazil rises a town bustling with industry, its streets are lined with mountainous piles of jeans that look, at times, like denim carcasses. Yet, Gomes not only grapples with the factories generating millions of pairs of jeans each year but also charts the human faces behind the machines and probes his familial ties to the region. It is a tall order that is skilfully achieved.
The filmmaker’s message is clear: in capitalism, money talks loud. Yet, in Waiting for the Carnival it is the sewing machines churning out pockets, zips and belt holes that talk thunderously louder. These noises make Gomes, the narrator, anxious. However, Pedro Andrade’s outstanding cinematography renders the mechanic movements graceful. The contradictions are matched by its form. The documentary oscillates between an objective look at the state of the industry and the director’s personal memories and anxieties that articulate the bridge between past and present.
It is easy to get lost like Gomes’s subjects in the repetitive routine. The director slowly moves in circles around the landscape always returning to the makeshift factories and their hardworking inhabitants, which makes it hard to ground a sense of place. The great success of Waiting for the Carnival is its characters who Gomes teases out from behind their machines. The seethingly honest residents of Toritama open up on the questions the filmmaker himself only alludes to. These labourers are not at work. However, there is no depiction of struggle. They accept the way things work.
As we tread through each day, Gomes makes us forget what we are waiting for, the Carnival. It is the only break in the year. Eerily, when the time comes there is little revelry on screen. Finally, the empty town resembles the Toritama of our narrator’s past. As Carnival draws to an end the clock starts up and it becomes clear that they are tethered to another year of production – the same routine lies ahead.
Waiting for the Carnival (Estou Me Guardando Para Quando O Carnaval Chegar) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.