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The Edge of Democracy

This documentary traces the rise of democracy in Brazil from just after the end of the dictatorship through the election in which Bolsonaro was elected into power. During this time, Lula Da Silva, a champion of the workers ruled, followed by Dilma Rousseff, who found herself and her administration under siege by the right. What makes this film unique, and why I think it was nominated for an Oscar, is the lens through which the director (Petra Costa) chooses to tell this history: Her parents were both revolutionaries against the dictatorship and, Ms. Costa weaves their (and her) stories into the larger history. Since her family knew both Lula and Dilma, Petra had very close access to them and their stories. What didn’t work so well for me was the bouncing around in time. As someone who is not as familiar with Brazilian history, I had a hard time understanding exactly what transpired during this period of approximately 20 years. But regardless, it is easy enough to see what is happening, and to be concerned: The rapid fracturing and polarization of society, the interference with “fake news”, and the increasing role that corruption, power, and money plays in politics. Sometimes, it is easier to see what is going on at home if we can look outside ourselves and see the same thing happening elsewhere. A recent poll showed growing global discontent with democracy. When you watch this film, you can see why that might be. Thumbs up for a film that is definitely worth attention, especially if you are interested in understanding the increasing (and alarming) trends toward nationalism, isolationism, and authoritarianism. (2019; 4 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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