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Screening BRICS: Culture and Representation

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When we think about the Global South and emerging countries, BRICS is probably one of the first things that comes to our mind. This association, formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa was founded primary based on economics facts. The five promising countries are considered to be impactful nations with a potential for growth and influence in the international system.

However, beyond trade and capital flows, it is crucial to stimulate the cultural relations among the five countries.  That is to say, countries with such potentialities have to think how their voices can be represented in a world mostly constructed by western perspective and ideas of what and who the “others” are.

As a Brazilian student in India, I feel the extreme importance of this process of rethinking the Global South with our words. In different conjunctures, we face similar social issues and we have similar goals, but unfortunately our bridge for cultural and education cooperation is still weak. If we look at education abroad, the majority of students choose Universities in Europe or North America, and when we realize the culture influences and references we have around us, it is certainly not from any of the BRICS or Global South countries.  Here lies the reflection of what and how can we challenge and balance the homogenized world’s system of knowledge (Art, culture, education, ideologies etc.).

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In this context, the first BRICS Film Festival held in Delhi less than a month ago, represents a meaningful step forward to our cultural exchange. Among the movies screened, numerous issues were discussed; gender, violence, nationalism, adventure, politics, religion, identity and ethnicity are just few. It is fascinating to watch films such as “Tess”, a South African production. The film is an adaptation of the novel “Whiplash”, and brings the discussion on rape culture, as South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world. Fighting against that, “Tess” is crucial at promoting awareness around the issue proposed. Completely different, the Chinese-Indian joint film “Xuan Zang” tells the story of Xuanzang and his long seventeen-year journey to India. It is a movie with a beautiful narrative, allowing us to travel through the nuances of a rich adventure. Crossing the world, “The History of Eternity”, one of the screened films, is a brilliant Brazilian production. In a small village of the northeast of the Brazil, three emotional stories tell us the tensions between modernity and tradition, between progress and cultural roots. Through a unique and artistic perspective, “Eternity” is a narrative constructed in its own time and space.

This was just a glimpse of some amazing films screened during the BRICS Film Festival, and the films of the festival are just a glimpse of what BRICS and the Global South can offer. The art of cinema is  important, not only as a medium for cultural exchange and entertainment, but also as a historical instrument of powerful visual representations, shaped by different perceptions and strategies.

A Film festival as such shows us our potential, and by strengthening these cultural and educational flows we will be able to reap good results. Having that in mind, we can clearly understand that the incentive for cultural exchange intra-BRICS and with other countries of Global South can be considered a fundamental piece to construct a stronger political and self-awareness through critiques of the world we live and different points of view. Our cultures, histories, stories and challenges need to be represented by ourselves, with our knowledge and experiences.

Vitor Pascale, is a student from Brazil, and is pursuing his Masters in International Relations from the School of International Studies, JNU. 

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