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The Aesthetics Of Hunger

(Written by Glauber Rocha, 1965)


Brazilian film director Glauber Rocha’s “The Aesthetics of Hunger” is Rocha’s radical manifesto for a global Third World Cinema, providing an antithetical alternative to European-and-Hollywood-style modes of production. Instead, Rocha advocates for his fellow countrymen to embrace and celebrate the burgeoning Cinema Novo movement because it fundamentally subverts the viewpoint of Brazil’s colonizers, confronting the oppressors not just with the tragic ramifications of their inhumane policies, but more importantly, the violent and revolutionary fervor it inspires. Rocha states “ … to this day, only distortions of the truth (a formal exoticism that vulgarizes social problems) have been widely communicated, provoking a series of misunderstandings which go beyond the arts and contaminate the political domain.” He argues that Brazilian cinema, outside of the Novo films, do one of two things; either presenting comedic technicolor spectacles of consumerism and excess (an attempt to over compensate the primary conditions), or a cinema that wallows in its misery, offering only images that “satisfy his nostalgia for primitivism,” a European’s hollow and perverted interest in the plight of others. Rocha astutely lays the theoretical foundation of a Brazilian cinema that its citizens and audience can feel proud of. Understanding that oppressing a population and starving them out is a form of violence that will necessarily be answered with that of rebellious violence, Rocha pleads with readers to consider the full scope of atrocity that these viceroys and overlords enact.