2007 / Mini DV / color / sound / 1S / 36' 55

Like Formigas Urbanas and Making off, this film concerns itself with the representation of certain types of work, but in this case the city in question is Sao Paolo and not Rio de Janeiro. The film limits itself to a relatively restrained location - a section of the Avenida Paulista - but explores every layer of its terrain from top to bottom, showing us the workers of the neighbourhood going about their daily tasks. They work from dawn to dusk: they're the life-force of the city. Baianagem can be understood as a botched job. The nordestinos are the baianos of Sao Paolo, thus the most underpaid members of the workforce. In his film, Edson Barrus demonstrates that the nordestinos are not bad workers, they are simply worked to the bone from morning to night.
The film literally takes flight with the descent of two workers down the side of a tall tower block; it moves on to show us another worker crossing the Avenida Paulista while suspended high up in the air; then follows a rope which leads us downwards towards other workers literally breaking rocks - the source of the syncopated sound-track which we heard while watching the other men tightrope across the sky between high-rises. The camera moves freely; it joins two shots with a panning shot which follows a rope down the side of a tower block, then returns to the worker high in the air, who checks his cellphone before beginning his descent. The sequence of events, as well as the sequence of activities, is organized around the passage from day to night, with an interruption of rainfall which suspends certain activities just as it provokes certain others. In the filming of manual labor, one is always aware of the attention paid to the individuals being filmed - a pause in the work, a snack grabbed in haste. When the storm breaks and passersby hurry to shelter, we're led to wonder what's happening outside the frame, on either side as well as above it. The camera annexes the world beyond the frame, while navigating within a restricted field of vision. The film is thus indicative of a labor accomplished over the course of time, an production without end, which is nonetheless very productive.
The to-and-fro of the camera's scanning movements, as well as its zooms (which carve up the field of vision) are evocative of the movements of the workers, breaking and gathering rocks.
When the storm breaks, attitudes change and the scene is populated by a different type of worker: office employees who come and go, or stop to find shelter from the rain, while other urban ants continue to haul their load.
And, as always, there are the images snatched by a visionary film-maker who is capable of finding poetry in a man walking in the gutter, or a moto-boy wiping his face before jumping back onto his bike.


distribution format Digital file on server (PAL)
screen 4/3 (single screen)
speed 25 fps
sound sound
rental fee 116,00 €