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Watching the Unwatchable: Films Confront Torture

Tuesday, February 2, 2010
7:30 p.m. How Nice to See You Alive
Lúcia Murat (Brazil, 1989)

(Que bom te ver viva). “Like many others of my generation, I dreamed of making Brazil into a utopia,” says journalist and filmmaker Lúcia Murat. And like many others of her generation, Murat was arrested and tortured for her political activism during the military dictatorship of the 1960s. In her extraordinary film, eight former political prisoners, all women, speak frankly about their months and years in prison. Today these women are activists, university professors, mothers, committed in every way to life. But privately each still struggles to recoup what the torturer took, what one woman calls “the pleasure of thinking.” Murat intersperses the interviews with a fictional monologue performed by the actress Irene Ravache. Her anger may be a little too ironic beside the profound humanity of these women. For them, surviving the torture is a lifelong project with paradoxes built in: “On the one hand, you pretend nothing happened; on the other hand, you pretend you didn’t survive.”

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Murat. Photographed by Walter Carvalho. With Irene Ravache. (100 mins, In Portuguese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Women Make Movies)