Films

Master and Divino (O Mestre e o Divino)

Tiago Campos
2013 | 85 min | Spain, Brazil, Xavante
New York Premiere | Director in Attendance

Adalberto is an eccentric German missionary with a passion for film. Divino (Xavante) is a young indigenous Amazonian filmmaker in his Brazilian village of Sangradouro, Mato Grosso, where Adalberto has lived for over 50 years. Both have been devoted to filming everyday life among the Xavante; the film reveals their congenial and sometimes fractious relationship, shaped by humor, competition, criticism, and ultimately mutual affection. It’s the story of a dynamic duo with different histories and equally different personalities, with lives brought together in this Amazonian village, all captured by yet a third filmmaker, Tiago Campos, who works with the well-known film collective Video nas Aldeias along with Divino. In the whirlwind of cameras, Campos weaves together archival footage—humorous and serious—and the long relationship between these two men and the cultural worlds they represent. Step into the Amazon valley for an absorbing and whimsical look at the intertwined histories of Catholic missionaries and indigenous activists.

Join us before the screening for the Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Ceremony

Past Forward, My Perspective

"Whenever I think of the question « tradition versus modernity » I remember my father telling me, with his deep voice in the dark of the living room, that he would go back and live isolated in the countryside again, as he lived when he was a child, in a farm like that of his father, without communication, electricity, etc. This nostalgia of a less modern life still makes me dream today, but just like him, I am more and more connected to the modern world and its new technologies, and him and I live split up between contradictory longings for tradition and for modernity.

No doubt that this is one of the reasons that made me make documentaries about traditional and marginal communities. Through the look of the camera, in a way or another, we sort of live in different worlds. But when one makes a film, one is, above all, in midst of an enormous quantity of exchanges, which is normal when one relates to people, and the relations of power are important to define what one can, must or want to tell.

During the filming of “The master and Divino”, among the things that “jumped” in front of the camera, was the relation between “master” Adalbert (German missionary and filmmaker) with Divino Tserewahú (young Xavante filmmaker), me and my team. It was what intrigued me most. Several elements of the story we were trying to understand were crossing in an incredible way: Divino’s super active involvement with the modern and technological world, Adalbert’s will to become and Indian and the influences each of them received in their youth, among other elements, lead to a set of scenes that are improbable and evident at the mean time. The central phenomenon really occurs when after the filming started and we were still focused on Adalbert’s personal story and archives, Divino “stole the scene” in the middle of an interview with Adalbert, thus starting an ironic duel of filmmakers, out of which I could not stay. Maybe because of a dispute about who was the most faithful representative of the Xavante culture or who was representing it more authentically, or about who possessed the best communication techniques or the best technologies to do it…

I don’t know how to separate clearly tradition as a guide or an obstacle to cultural, technological or communication advances, since we all are moved by these contradictory longings for tradition and for modernity. Collective history being inseparable from individual history, so each one of us in his path contributes with tradition’s permanency, disappearance or evolution.

What led Divino to cinema? Was it his will to register in order to preserve his culture, or did he see filmmaking as a way of entering a world foreign to his traditions? What led Adalbert to want to become an “authentic Indian”, catechize the Indians, make films? What led me to them?

I just know one thing: someday I will live on the countryside, just the way it was on my grandfather’s farm, with no communication, with no electricity…"

- Tiago Campos | Director, Master and Divino