53rd Chicago Int’l Film Fest #13: “In the Intense Now” (Brazil)

“In the Intense Now” (Brazil)
Directed by João Moreira Soles

intenseHistorical docs very rarely stray from the tried and true formula – identify the main players, and chronologically take us through the events that shaped the story. Occasionally, one will surprise, the most notable of which would be Ross McElwee’s epic 1985 doc, “Sherman’s March”. So it is with great joy that I introduce you to another such rarity, João Moreira Soles’ “In the Intense Now”.

More a personal essay on his experiences and remembrances of his mother than anything else, he manages to enlighten and comment, with extraordinary intellect, on the nature of governmental power versus improvised protest, and more importantly, the way in which we look at the evidence of these events. Focusing on 1968 Paris, Prague, Rio and Beijing, and with an understated yet connected voice-over underneath, we bear witness to ninety minutes of found footage, news footage, and home movies. If this sounds like it might become boring, it is not. Sleepy, perhaps, but only in the lullaby nature of his voice, certainly not the words, which have been chosen with such sincerity and clarity, and placed perfectly with the well-edited footage that must have taken him months to sift through and piece together.

But no matter how intellectual or psychological it gets, Soles always brings it back to his mother. She exists throughout the film as a nurturing presence…someone who taught this voice how to look at the world in a more human way, to challenge the narrative of these films, and to look…to really look at what these images show, and by extension, tell us. All while never judging the players. He lets the subjects of his footage do that for us. Rather, he has a very specific point-of-view, but the film never feels preachy. It’s a remarkable juggling act.

“In the Intense Now” is a fascinating experience that should not be missed.

Written on 10/24/2017


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