Walter Benjamin states that History is where the singular crystallizes into a fixed whole – it is from this premise that we depart. I establish that the conversation (in this film) takes place in “no man’s land” i.e neither in my comfort zone, nor in Paulo de Figueiredo’s. Such premise should generate a feeling of dislocation for both parties. Initially, the location should be anonymous. Gradually, what is off-screen gains weight and the awareness of a time and a place is established. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to identify where we are. I would like to highlight the distinction between reporting (facts) and literature (imagination), without being too explicit. The difference between “literature” and “reportage” does not uphold; we believe in the documentary because it is made of “reportage”. We remove one or two fictional bricks and the wall of ‘authentic’ reality collapses. What is left is imagination, which imprints in our memory a real world that I try to describe artistically.
I tell Paulo that I want to tell the story of his life. He consents.
This can be a film about violence, but deep down, it’s a film about moments of human experience. It’s not about History as it is understood academically; these are fragments, jump cuts of a non-linear type.
What is authentic is the story that Paulo tells and the moment that happens between me and his breathing. It’s in this breathing that the documentary is built. It’s in this meeting point that the viewer should feel that he is tearing down the limit between fact and fiction. His sublime portrayal of cruelty, of the paradoxes of power and of the revolutions that dethroned him – only served to erect new bureaucracies, new cruelties and new paradoxes. His work as a mercenary lies on the space that exists between these two worlds.
Trauma is outside memory, outside history. It is (un)representable, unmemorable, and unforgettable. How can we know the trauma i.e. how can its impossibility to be represented be presented? And isn’t history an original container of trauma? The work of memory, and it’s memorial processes of transformation of time and space, of the politic, of the public and the private, of the nation and the family isn’t it a process of desire?
– Salomé Lamas