Skip to content

How Many Stories Are Left Untold, Every Day?

Rodrigo Antonio

Partner-Director of the Association of Black Audiovisual Professionals

How Many Stories Are Left Untold, Every Day?

With its plurality of voices, faces and accents, we have paved the way to rethink the Black Brazilian film and TV industry. We are the first or perhaps second generation of Black Brazilian creators who have the opportunity to break down the walls that separate us from a truly plural narrative. Words like diversity and representation can no longer account for the multiplicity of Blackness. Our stories are urgent, as more people want to see themselves reflected on screens.

As a Black and Amazonian creator, I recognize this responsibility to not only consume but also produce knowledge, in the form of art. By strengthening Black narratives, we go from being mere characters marked by stereotypes to being the protagonists of our own stories. Black cinema is not and should not be treated as a genre. It's a revolution. 

The Internet has empowered this connection between Black professionals and presented itself as a new window for our narratives. In practice, however, we face disparities as a result of racial discrimination that still persists. There is a gap in professional development, especially in the creative triad – Black writers, producers and directors – and there is a lack of resources for us to create. 

In the North, for example, we only have one federal university program related to film. Amazonas is among the top three states in Brazil with the highest demand for filming locations, after Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. But few productions are originated there. So, I ask: how many stories are left untold, every day?

What we are going through currently with the pandemic is very difficult. And in times like these, we Black professionals do what we've always done: we reinvent ourselves. Funds like FAPAN, supported by donations like Netflix's, announced today, are important for transforming lives, supporting freelance professionals and Black producers. Those producers spearhead what we call vocational companies, dedicated to the production of identity content. They understand the need for a transformation in the production chain, which starts with the creation of our narratives to the access and insertion of these stories on the most diverse screens, so they can spread and speak to viewers. 

When the cinema lights are switched on or when we finish binge-watching a series, what reverberates and actually turns into action? This is what these independent production companies exist for–- and they must continue to exist.

***

Black lives matter, Black storytelling does too

One year after the pandemic profoundly impacted the creative community around the world, and in the midst of a new wave in Brazil, we at Netflix, recognize how important it is to support Black film and TV professionals and organizations as well as their permanence in this business.

That’s why we are donating R$3 million to FAPAN, benefiting 875 self-employed professionals and 275 legal representatives of vocational companies. Registration will be open on this site from March 21 – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This is part of the company’s $150M USD hardship fund that has been administered in over 20 countries, created to help the hardest hit workers in the creative community and provide emergency relief to out-of-work crew and cast across the broader TV and film industry in countries where we have a large production base.

Responding to racism and injustice with meaningful change will also require creating long-term opportunities for the Black community. As a first step, last year we committed to supporting the Black community with a focus on opportunity, in particular in the creative community. R$2 million of that commitment went to APAN, Instituto Querô, Instituto Criar and Instituto Nicho 54 for mentoring, training and capacity-building programs for Black talents around Brazil.

Black lives matter – and so do their stories. We hope that these initiatives, added to the many others that are still necessary, can begin to reduce inequalities and reunite these powerful talents spread throughout Brazil, as such amplifying their voices. We hope that many more Brazilians will be able to see themselves reflected on the screen.