The charcoal people

Nigel Noble
Brazil, USA 1999 | 67 Min. | 35 mm, OmeU

On the defor­est­ed plains of Cen­tral Brazil where once euca­lyp­tus trees grew, the prim­i­tive, round, char­coal ovens look like igloos. But instead of pro­tect­ing people from the cold, their heat is dev­as­tat­ing. In OS CARVOEIROS, the Eng­lish direc­tor Nigel Noble intro­duces the work­ers who make a living by cut­ting down the trees, build­ing the ovens, and burn­ing the wood. The char­coal is processed into steel in Amer­i­can steel mills and sub­se­quent­ly used for build­ing cars and houses. Sixty thou­sand Brazil­ians are active in the char­coal indus­try. They lead a nomadic exis­tence, moving across Brazil, from one forest to the next, in search of a job. The work­ers and their chil­dren are con­demned to the same dead-end life, as there is nei­ther money nor oppor­tu­ni­ty for edu­ca­tion. The calm nar­ra­tive style, the warmly lit images of the stripped land­scape, and the melan­choly music by João Nabuco, come togeth­er com­pose a sad visual poem about a people doomed.