Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival


Samuel and the Light

In the cove of the turquoise sea, sheltered by the tropical woods stands fishing village Ponta Negra. Due to its remote location, daily life in the village passes on its own unhurried pace in harmony with the surrounding nature. Dining happens in the candlelight, laundry is done in natural waters, news is listened to on a battery-driven radio, and fishing nets are made by hand. Life is rough but also idyllically peaceful.

When the state of Brazil wires up electric cables to Ponta Negra, the villagers are pleased. Finally, they can have all the machines to make their everyday lives easier, from washing machines to refrigerators and even televisions. With the electricity come the tourists, and bars are put up on the virgin beach. As the music blasts, beer flows and the previously tranquil village transforms into tourists’ party resort, the new source of income quickly loses its appeal. Along with the tourism, the calm rhythm of the film also inevitably changes towards a more hectic one.

The dilemma of “progression” is insightfully encapsulated in small Samuel, who grows from a toddler into a small boy in the midst of the great changes in the village. The villagers used to their frugal everyday life suddenly find themselves as servants to others, and the children who previously frolicked in nature are now stock-still, mesmerised by video games. Did the electricity bring about progress after all, or was it just a disservice from the state? The visually graceful film paints a clear-cut picture of modern-day Brazil. It does not offer many answers but raises all the more questions.

Sissi Korhonen (translated by Sabriina Hietaniemi)

Original Title: Samuel e a luz
Language: Brazilian Portuguese
Subtitles: English
Length: 70 min
Age Limit: S
Year: 2023
Production Country: Brazil, France

Director: Vinícius Girnys
Producer: Philippe Aussel, Fernando Pereira Dos Santos
Production Company: Le-lokal Production, Sendero Filmes
Screenplay: Vinícius Girnys
Editing: Tom Laterza, Vinícius Girnys, Gabriela Baraúna
Cinematographer: Pedro Cortese, Chico Bahia, Olívia Pedroso, Vinícius Girnys, Emília Mello
Sound Design: Daniel Turini, Matéo Rousson