Clara Ianni and Débora Maria da Silva
Apelo [Plea] emerges from the urgent need to address the institutionalisation of violence in Brazil – something that has developed throughout the country’s history, beginning with the European invasion in the early sixteenth century – and the country’s difficulty to relate to its legacy. Filmed in Dom Bosco Cemetery in the neighbourhood of Perus, in São Paulo’s outer limits, where urban and country landscapes come together – Apelo connects present-day acts of violence with those of the past through a speech. The cemetery was founded in 1971 by the lastest military government (1964-1985) as a graveyard for victims of the regime, most of whom had disappeared and were later buried in a mass grave. The speaker and co-author of this work is Débora Maria da Silva, whose son was murdered in 2006, a victim of the death squads of the São Paulo military police – one of the most lethal police forces in the world – in response to the attacks orchestrated by the prisioner’s organisation Primeiro Comando da Capital, or PCC. Da Silva currently leads the Ma?es de Maio movement, comprised of mothers who have lost sons or daughters to police violence and who demand investigation and justice.
As a plea to the living to remember the dead, the speech cries for the right to mourn and for collective memory, confronting the forced amnesia systematically promoted by the state along with other sectors of society. It strives to revive these erased stories, which have disappeared as violently as those who were murdered. Because the absence of memory and the subsequent impossibility of coping with social trauma dooms us to repeating the same acts of violence in the present, threatened by the ghosts of our history. – LP