Northeast on the Move – the project


The seven states of Brazil’s Northeast move fast and slow. No doubt the best known picture of the region is that of persisting poverty and emigration, but in fact there is a long history of social and political protest. The contrast between the known and the less known Northeast became the topic of the documentary which we made in the years 2000 – 2002 as an independent project.

The contrasts are abundant. In spite of the desperation and void that have replaced the once so firm belief in the blessings of modernity, there are enough occasions when, like during the gay parade in Salvador, the city becomes a stage for an outburst of optimism. And still, those who have migrated to the cities often just could not be worse off.

On the other side, the popular religious faith and a deep-rooted sense of a culture of one’s own can survive even in the city slums. And it certainly does among those who have decided to stay in the sertão, the dry backlands. In Palmares, a settlement of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) in the interior of Ceará, seu Antônio, father of ten sons all named Francesco, likes to recollect memories of the land occupation that brought so many together.

Next to the internationally known MST, there are also others like the upsurgent indigenous peoples, who challenge the traditional power of big landowners and other gatekeepers in the society. If they are to survive, they cannot but be on the move, socially, politically, and emotionally.

See our Northeast on the Move publications here.