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Film Screening - Orestes

  • K3.11, Strand Campus Strand London, England United Kingdom (map)

Orestes is an adaptation of the Greek tragedy of Aeschylus to the Brazilian reality. With a mock jury and a series of psychodramas, Orestes addresses two prominent moments in Brazilian history: the military dictatorship of the 1970s and the police violence currently seen in the present.

In 458 BC, Aeschylus performed the Oresteia trilogy. The tragedy culminates in the trial of Orestes, who killed his mother to avenge his father's death. The acquittal by the jury of Athenians puts an end to the eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth mentality. It also converted the Furies, goddesses of vengeance in Eumenides, into the defenders of democracy, a civilizing landmark in Western culture.

The Orestes documentary appropriates Aeschylus' story and promotes its encounter with Brazilian history. What if Orestes were Brazilian, son of a political activist and an infiltrated agent of the military dictatorship? What if, at the age of six, he saw his mother being tortured and killed by his father? And what if this same Orestes, 37 years later, killed his father, a torturer amnestied in 1979, during the process of democratization?

From these questions, the documentary "Orestes" uses a mock jury and a series of psychodrama sessions to investigate how the military dictatorship left deep marks in the official narratives and subjectivity of Brazilians. Documentary and fiction make up a Brazil of simulated truths.

In the film, the hypothetical defendant Orestes faces trial by a jury. His defence lawyer is the former Justice Minister Jose Carlos Dias, a lawyer who represented more than 600 political prisoners during the dictatorship. The prosecutor is Mauricio Ribeiro Lopes, an expert speaker in criminal courts.

The core of this Brazilian style documentary tragedy is made up of a group of victims of police violence, the victims of the dictatorship and people in civil society. Meetings in these psychodrama sessions allow the group to express, freely and unrestrained, situations and speeches that are not normally spoken about in public. It is through the chorus that the rites of justice are put face to face with the deepest passions of the common Brazilian. It is through psychodrama that this documentary looks at the traumas of the past.

The wounds left by our violent and often veiled or hidden historical processes permeate through the film. The marks of repression of the 1970s are the trademarks of police violence today. The historical truth is called into question and the official narratives are deconstructed. Fact and version are put face to face and justice is called into question. In the Brazil of the present day, perhaps the Furies, goddesses of vengeance, are still alive and more active than ever.