Three days before the anniversary of the unanswered, violent murder, of Brazilian Black feminist and politician Marielle Franco, a racism row is rocking the South American country over a television series based on her life.
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Leading Black voices in Brazil are furious that a project aimed at telling the story of a Black woman is headed by three withe people: creator Antonia Pellegrino, director Jose Padilha, and chief scriptwriter George Moura.
“It is irresponsible. Marielle would never agree,” said Sabrina Fidalgo, 38, a black film-maker in Rio de Janeiro, where Franco was a city councilor and an outspoken defender of women, black and LGBT rights. “Her main agenda was the inclusion of black women in all sectors of society.”
The television drama was announced Friday by the Globo TV network. The next day, 68 mostly Black professionals from the cinema and TV industry signed a statement rejecting the “violence” of this project towards Franco’s legacy.
They also sharply criticized the timing of the project. “Making fiction around a crime that is still being investigated is also violent and naturalizes violent crime.”
Franco’s sister Anielle also condemned the series. “White people who don’t open doors for black people get there before us because we can’t,” she said.
More specifically, the choice of Padilha as a director of the series has sparked outrage. The filmmaker is accused by numerous Black voices in Brazil to create “symbolic tools for the construction of fascism and genocide of Black youth,” in his movies.
“It is extremely violent to involve in a series about Marielle the author of films that heroically portrayed the country's most violent police,” the group of Black professionals said in its statement, especially referring to Padilha’s “Elite Squad.”
On Sunday, the creator of the series, Pellegrino, worsened things when she defended the choice of Padilha, saying that Brazil did not have “a Spike Lee, an Ava DuVernay”.
“I would like to ask forgiveness from people who felt offended by my declaration,” she told the Guardian Wednesday. “Even people committed to struggle against sexism and racism make mistakes.”
Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes were killed on March 14, 2018, when 13 shots were fired at Franco’s car. Two former police officers have been accused of her killing but are yet to be judged. Nobody has been charged with ordering her murder.