“Go Brazil Go” Spike Lee documents on Brazil

Photo courtesy of Kwamy Hashid

I was honoured to meet Spike Lee while he’s in Bahia during the carnival. Spike Lee is no stranger to Brazil nor the people to him, as in 1996 Mr Lee directed Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” music video featuring Salvador Afro-Brazilian Samba band; Olodum. When I met the acclaimed African-American director in Maragojipe, he was wearing a T-shirt paying homage to 25 years of Michael Jackson’s “Bad”. This month is also 25 years since Spike Lee ‘woke up’ the African-American film industry with School Daze in 1988.

Spike Lee’s latest project is a documentary being filmed in Brazil. As well as a catchy title “Go Brazil Go”, there is no doubt the film will feature shots of Brazil’s most iconic scenery.

But really, do we need yet another tourism portrait of Brazil’s beauty? Judging from the ‘Do The Right Thing‘ film maker’s portfolio, I have a feeling this documentary may have an angle of controversy to challenge social barriers- or at least I hope so!

I’ve been in Brazil for 2 months and it wasn’t long before I discovered Brazil’s world portrayal of being a ‘rainbow nation’ isn’t so democratic. In this case, not all the colours of the rainbow are equal! I’m hoping the documentary will at the least highlight the country’s social and racial inequalities particularly regarding Afro-Brazilians. If any one has the power to get the world’s attention on such topics, it’s most definitely Spike Lee!

And with the film expected to be released in time for the 2014 World Cup, there couldn’t be a better time to premier some ‘reality’, as all eyes look to Brazil.

And speaking of football, Spike Lee tells me he’s is an Arsenal fan! I almost lost out on a photo opportunity with the director when I mentioned I support rival team Chelsea (though technically I support whoever is winning and that’s usually Chelsea isn’t it?!)

“Enjoy the carnival!”

Were my last words to the film maker, kicking myself not asking any thought provoking questions. I’ll put it down to being star struck!

“Thank you.”

Was his response.
I’ll leave you with some pictures I captured of Spike Lee in Maragojipe, Bahia during the carnival… The KKK costumes also had me thinking- hmmm!!

(pictures are available for publications. Please contact me directly. All photos are ⒸKai Lutterodt)

Security was tight but polite (enough to let me get some shots. I do love a kind hearted brother!

Please join the debate! What’s your opinion on racial inequality in Brazil or South America? Is it right that KKK costume is worn at a Brazilian carnival? Does this highlight some underlining issues the country faces?…














20 thoughts on ““Go Brazil Go” Spike Lee documents on Brazil

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  1. When I was in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I went to a local parade and saw many people wearing similar KKK-looking costumes (although not in white). I’m wondering if that’s a traditional Carnaval costume that just happens to have an eerie similarity to KKK robes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You got to meet Spike Lee!! That must have been really cool! I’ve liked a lot of his films. Do the Right Thing and Mo Better Blues are two of my favorites. He really is a legendary director. Did you get to chat with Spike a bit? I’m sure that was a pleasant experience. Thanks for the pictures as well. You really are a talented photographer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re probably right. I might be too laid back on the issue and maybe a racist myself after all. But then what do I even know of Afro-Brazilians and Afro-Americans… I’ve never even crossed the pond. As for your beloved prince, whether he dressed like Jesus, Hitler, in a suit and tie, the way his mama made him, or in any other way, he’d probably have attracted the same tabloid attention


    1. Dear Edrin, lets be adults and keep this debate civil- “my beloved prince”?!

      I used Prince Harry as an example that even in the western societies that you mentioned, wearing such a controversial costume even for fun is not so acceptable as you may think.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      The shots I got of Spike Lee filming speak volumes if I say so myself! You can imagine my surprise at seeing KKK costumers at the Maragojipe carnival… A family event! My first thought was surely they don’t know the significance of such a costume! But I refuse to let ‘ignorance’ be a justification.

      With Spike Lee capturing those shots for his latest documentary, I’m hopeful the film will address at least a few of of the inequalities that lie under the façade of Brazil’s beauty. The KKK costumers at the carnival is a symbolic example of the ‘ignorance’ floating about.

      Brazil has never had a ‘civil rights movement’ as in North America so there are many underlining issues that have been brushed under the carpet for the longest time! And the portrayal of being a ‘rainbow nation’ to the world (and the Brazilian people) seems to have brought about confusion about how to tackle the big R word (if it exists at all according to some privileged Brazilians)- Racism!

      Some choose to call it ‘classism’ along with other terms. Racism is racism- in what ever sugar-coat one chooses to disguise it in.

      I’m hopeful Spike Lee will do the people of Brazil proud! Film can have a way of hitting some hard truths! We patiently wait and see!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can’t really say much about the racial tensions in Brazil since I haven’t been there yet and all I know about it comes from other people’s opinions, but on the other hand ignorance or not, I don’t think the presence of somebody in a KKK costume should be taken out of the carnival contest. Aren’t SS, suicide bomber, or other costumes related to shameful parts of humanity’s history, also very popular among the carnivals and masked parties of western Europe and North America…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Edrin!

        Thanks for your comment.

        Needless to say, one can visit Brazil and not see any racial tension at all! In fact with favela tours becoming ever more popular, one can visit ‘the other side’ and feel satified that the people there are ‘happy’ in their circumstances… That can be enough ‘satisfaction’ for some tourists that there isn’t any ‘racial tension’ in Brazil.

        Regarding the KKK costumes. I find your opinion very relaxed, but never-the-less thanks for expressing it! Just because such costumes are worn at events in western societies still does not make it right! Hence why there was the whole palava when Prince Harry worn the Nazi soilder outfit! Its disrespectful and insulting. The only way I could justify the KKK costume at the Carnival in Maragojipe is if there was some educational meaning behind it. Flyers been giving out about the civil rights movement in America… Something!

        Your opinion sort of hightlights the laid back attitude towards combating racism in Brazil. When I hear stories about Afro-Braziians being called ‘monkeys’ (you just need to switich on the TV in Brazil and see what a mockory is being made out of Afro-Brazilians. Thankfully I choose to keep it off!) and just taking it on the chin or laughing at it (really at themselves) it’s truely heart breaking. And you don’t need to be a black person or Afro-Brazilian to feel this empathy.

        Just like I don’t need to be African American to still be insulted at seeing KKK costumers at the Maragojipe carnival. I express again, if there was some educational signicance to hightlight or spread awareness of racial tension in North American, then fair enough.

        But from where I was standing (and from the angle of Spike Lee’s cameras- of course I don’t speak for the director!) I didn’t see any such thing.

        On the other hand, the costumer may not be aware of the significance of his costume! Though it doesn’t make it right, I see it as a blessing that Spike Lee and his cameras were there to get shots. Its ‘symbolic’ of the racial tension in Brazil that yourself and other westerners (and indeed Brazilians) feel ‘shouldn’t be taken out of carnival context.’

        Sadly when the carnival is over, one might find nothing much has changed after all the singing and dancing!

        Liked by 1 person

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