João Paulo Miranda Maria’s Memory House (Casa de Antiguidades) makes for an intriguing feature debut. The film’s slow-as-molasses pacing and surreal dream-logic will leave plenty of folks scratching their heads. But if you’re willing to engage the material on a deeper level, there are plenty of provocative insights to unpack.
Cristovam (Antonio Pitanga) is an indigenous black Brazilian northerner. Decades ago, Cristovam packed up and moved to a predominantly Austrian southern region to work in a milk factory. All these years later, he finds himself adrift in a land that feels alien.
Poor old Cristovam is the target of constant abuse; his boss slashes his wages, townsfolk hurl racial slurs at him, and neighbourhood brats torture his dog.
Just as it feels like Cristovam has no reason to live, he comes across a strange house full of artifacts representing his past. And as Cristovam reconnects with his indigenous roots, the memory house sparks a powerful awakening within him.
This dream-like slow-burn drama comes off like a waking nightmare. Maria uses imagery from Brazilian folklore to deploy a haunting interrogation of colonialism’s treacherous legacy.
This uncompromising tale of one man’s spiritual reawakening is one of the year’s most ferocious social commentaries.