Let me show you how
Shoes
Films
Exiled in Paris and remembering
in service of a story still being told.

Saul & Haskell

Angela

Luiz

Heinz

Shoes

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my mom spent the first years of her life without shoes.

she grew up in the rural backlands of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

she walked the red- clay- dirt roads barefoot.

this was her reality and the reality for her 11 brothers and sisters and mostly everyone in this forgotten, desolate town.

her first pair of shoes were a pair of chinelos or flipflops for her 10th birthday.

An uncle brought them from "the city..." she tells me this story (and many more like this one) because this poverty and rampant inequality is still very much a reality today but no one's going to change the world in a day, but try and DO something about it, take those steps — it’s going to take a while, "so try to wear comfortable shoes!"

I was born in New York City and I was lucky enough to take some of my first steps in classy leather blue and red orthopedic shoes from 'Stride Rite.'

in 1991 my mom would embark on a long career in 'Men's Fine Formal Wear" but she will tell you she "dressed interesting men for a living"

this is a picture of us wearing white ties and tails and shoes to match,
"Mom aren't these boy shoes?"

"Lanna, these are shoes, great shoes" and they were.

Once during a show at the Lincoln Center my mom took off her shoes --- we had good seats, no one was sitting right next to us and:

"eh, it's more comfortable"

I followed suit - I took off my boy size 1 patent leather dress shoes and I knew how lucky we were:

we got to *choose* to be barefoot

i wrote this on my birthday as I ran around the city

where the rain had been on and off and horrible.

my feet were soaked.

I wore the wrong shoes.

















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High school graduation is on the horizon and the class salutatorian, prepares her speech.
Despite appearances her private sphere is laden with secrets and insecurity.

16mm Experimental Narrative - Runtime 6:04 graduationspeechfilm.com

On Dec 27th we lost one of history's most influential filmmakers: Haskell Wexler. He was a prolific artist, an activist, a father, a friend --- a caring and incredibly insightful human being.

three years ago he and his filmmaking partner Saul Landau treated this fumbling kid behind the camera like GOLD.

over the past 24 hours I've been trying to verbalize something akin to homage, but writing an extended prose of gratitude; of goodbye feels not quite fitting.

any veteran that makes time to talk about their years of trial and error over pad thai in an Alameda strip mall to a rookie,

will never cease to exist to said rookie. all of the love to his family, his fans, and his very much living legacy.
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SEPTEMBER 16 2013
I first met Saul Landau at the Fruitvale station of the San Francisco BART Sunday morning, on March 24th, 2013.

He picked me up in his grey Camry and was wearing a CAL POLY college sweatshirt.

"What do you think of San Francisco so far? Are you hungry? We're all going for Chinese," he asks as I get in his car.

Three hours before I was on a Jet Blue flight, intensely taking notes on possible questions for the filmmakers that I would spend the afternoon with. My stomach was churning, to say the least.

"Yes, yes, and thank you, I just don't know where to begin. Thank you." was all I managed to get out.

In February of 2012 I saw a film that would change the course of my life for the next two years-

A film made by this man and Oscar winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler.

The name of the film is Brazil: A report on Torture, and it was released in 1971. It is a compilation of testimonies given by Brazilian leftists living in exile in Chile as they describe the torture inflicted on them in the political prisons during the Brazilian military regime that was in power between 1964-1985. Since then, I have met and interviewed several of the revolutionaries connected to the film and have become incredibly invested in understanding the complexities of the resistance movement during this time of political repression in Brazil.

Saul and Haskell never forgot the spirit of these young Brazilians, their desire for social change, and their belief in potential for humanity despite the inhumanity they had fallen victim to.

In March of this year, Saul invited me to his home to speak with him and Haskell about this film and how it had inspired a project of my own.

I was so curious. They had originally gone to Chile to document the election and overall political climate that brought Salvador Allende to the presidency, but they found out that a group of Brazilian political prisoners had just been released from jail and given asylum in Chile.

"Why did you chose this story?" I asked. "What did you think was your purpose in crafting this story for the world? Was it specifically for an audience back in the States?"

"We were just activists with a camera." Saul replied. He and Haskell then went back and forth as they reflected on the injustice that was taking place in Brazil. They wanted the world to know about it through their film.

At one point during the day, Saul turned to me and said, "Why do I do this? Well, for one thing, you're here."

Indeed, I was.

I had made the trip to California and was now sitting there behind a borrowed SONY NXCAM handheld (that belonged to Saul). And I was there because I was struck by the stories these two filmmakers collected 40 years before. Those stories gave me a window into my background as a child of Brazilian parents. Those stories informed their intended audiences then, and have since then immortalized the young Brazilian revolutionaries, some of who are no longer with us.

I understood that he was making a statement on how film brings people together but that statement most definitely struck a cord with me.

On this past Wednesday evening, September 10th, I received the news that Saul Landau had just passed away.

I was incredibly distraught. In fact, I am still incredibly distraught. I stayed in touch with him as I journeyed from Brazil to Europe to continue the narrative that Haskell and Saul had started in their 1971 film.

My heart goes out to his family (of whom he constantly spoke as he went through the photos he kept on his fridge at his Alameda home), to his friends, and to any person he has touched in his meaningful life.

And yet I cannot help but feel joy and gratitude for our time spent together.

I cannot help but be inspired by the spirit that Saul possessed and that is still very much alive.

That spirit drives us to take risks, to support unpopular causes, to ask the inconvenient questions, and to collect the unexpected but incredibly poignant stories that we want the world to hear. I cannot help but believe that in the process of living this life, Saul's incredible spirit lives in his films, his books, his poetry, his incredibly talented family and within any investigative soul who has a thirst for telling the stories left untold.

You are missed Saul, but in my short experience of knowing you, I've indeed been captivated by this spirit.

And If I could say one more thing to you, I would repeat the only thing I managed to say on that Sunday morning-

Thank you.


















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    AUGUST 15 2013
    "Do I still go to political protests today in Paris? Of course! And one time when I was in Brazil, visiting family, I went to a political rally at Cinelândia (Rio de Janeiro) against government corruption. Being involved politically will always be of great importance to me..."

    -Angela Xavier de Brito reflects on the balcony of her Paris apartment.

    It was June 12th- Valentines day or 'Dias dos Namorados' in Brazil- 1968.

    Angela and her husband had plans to go out to dinner.

    Instead they spent that night and several weeks thereafter, in jail.

    Their's was not an uncommon fate in the late 60s. Part of a political activist group called, "Ação Popular (AP)," or Popular Action, Angela and a group of bright-eyed university students would come together to study political ideas and debate the different courses of action to take against the increasingly draconian measures of the military regime in Brazil. Being accused of conspiring to bring down a regime that came to power illegally, many of Angela's friends were arrested without valid warrants.

    After being released from jail, Angela and her husband continued to be involved in political action. While holding full time jobs (Angela worked as an academic researcher) they would collect testimonies of people that had been tortured in jail and compile them in a newsletter to send to human rights organizations abroad. After increasing oppressive measures taken by the Brazilian military government, Angela and her husband decided to take their car and drive to Chile. Allende had just been elected and they knew they would have much more political freedom there.

    Unfortunately their political freedoms did not last very much as Allende was ousted in 1973. He was replaced by Pinochet and all of the political refugees Chile once welcomed with open arms were now, once more, without a home. France and Switzerland were accepting political exiles. Angela could speak French, so Paris made sense.

    Once arriving in Paris, she immediately fell in love- the metro, the city, the freedom.

    The only thing she really missed when she was in exile was her family and the fact that she left Brazil on unsettling terms with her father. "My father never really agreed with my politics. He hoped I would tend to my home, my marriage and have children--not be active in politics." However, after being allowed to return to Brazil with the 1979 Amnesty, Angela and her father were reunited and he told her how proud he was of her, an experience she recounts as "the mostly beautiful moment of her life.

    Could she ever go back and live in Brazil?

    She has lived more years in France than in any other place and today feels much more assimilated to life here then she could ever feel in Brazil.

    And Brazil's current political climate?

    "We did what we could do, and we were forced to leave because of these ideals.

    Now it's this generation's turn to do their part...and I'll follow them as they do so, every step of the way..."



    ~



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    AUGUST 5 2013
    "After being in Europe for sometime in exile, I missed the sun. I missed the beach in Brazil. I told my first girlfriend in France this, and she brought me here..."

    -on the beaches of Normandy with Luiz Eduardo Prado de Oliveira.

    Luiz Eduardo Prado de Oliveira never wanted to leave Brazil.

    "To leave your country of origin as a political exile is to run the risk of the destruction of your ideals," he affirms. He and his friends yearned for a return to democracy after the military coup in 1964. And, while he wanted to stay and fight for these ideals, his most basic freedoms were in danger. In December of 1968, the Brazilian Military Government created an amendment (AI-5) to the constitution outlawing any form of political organization that would act in opposition to the regime. Many of his friends were persecuted and held without trial by the police. The only way to be spared the horrors of prison for political reasons was to leave. And so he did.

    The night his plane took off from the Galeão airport in Rio de Janeiro, police officials ransacked his home searching for the young man who was teaching groups of young people about Marx and Ché Guevara. "At first, it only interested me to read them because the Brazilian military police immediately began destroying that literature after they took over in 1964." He tells me smiling, "the lure of forbidden fruit, I guess."

    While he fled that September night to Europe in 1969, Luiz Eduardo still feels like an exile in France: "The same problematic political infrastructure that existed then and forced me to leave, still exist today," he says. He believes the Brazilian Constitution of 1988 is an example of democratic ideals, but that the corrosive government practices that predate it, and that have remained in existence, leave him hopeless of successfully returning to Brazil. It still angers him to see Brazil's public security, the health system, and education in such dire straits but he often finds himself longing for his home country and calls himself, "one of the last [Brazilian] exiles in Paris."

    Luiz Eduardo has, since his arrival in 1969, built a life for himself in France. In his early years he worked as a psychologist providing therapy for political prisoners who suffered trauma during their imprisonment. Today he gives lectures around the world on this subject while he maintains his practice in Paris, where he treats a great range of psychological issues.

    Today he watches from a distance as his home country struggles as a democracy to deal with the [still] vast socio-economic inequalities. To see people on the streets of Brazil protesting and striving to implement some of the same socially conscious ideals that he and his friends fought for in their youth leaves him, "emocionado (or, deeply moved)." As we would spend the mornings walking on the beaches of Normandy, reflecting on Brazil's long history of corrupt government practices, Luiz Eduardo is careful to assume that great change will follow the protests, "Let's wait and see, let's see what happens this time..."



    ~



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    JUNE 5 2015
    "Lanna...have you heard about these 23 political prisoners in Rio de Janeiro?"

    I look at some e-mail print outs Pastor Heinz Dressel hands to me,

    the title of the one I pick up reads:

    "Manifesto em Defesa dos 23 perseguidos políticos- RJ"

    A Manifesto on Behalf of 23 political prisoners in Rio de Janeiro.

    on the top left of the page, the name of organization that released this information:

    Tortura Nunca Mais, a Brazilian human rights organization that works to document cases of state violence, past & present.

    "It's not just these people; these prisoners; but there are the "favelas," he adds with despair, "there is state violence there as well! This all continues to happen in Brazil..."

    He has not been to Brazil in years, but his close friends keep him updated - news of Brazil being a "global power" doesn't cloud his profound understanding of deep-seated issues over 500 years old.

    Pastor Heinz shakes his head with grief as he looks for more things to show me.

    I have made the trip to Nuremberg and now we're catching up on politics, a film I am making, and life in general.

    Heinz F Dressel or Pastor Heinz - a Lutheran pastor, human rights activist, father and husband (among other significant roles) - is a man who has been concerned for Brazil (the people and the land) for a very long time.

    Since 1952, when he moved abroad to do pastoral work among German inmigrants in Brazil, he began to publish articles and books on the country's history and systematic disenfranchisement as well as reflecting on his own religious identity in German.

    In a book titled Faith and Citizenship he dedicates his final chapter to recounting the shameful history between the Nazi Party and the Protestant faith, and asks, "How could Christians have supported a regime just to 'obey an order?'"

    As the director of the Ecumenical Postgraduation Programme of the Evangelical Church in Germany (ÖSW - Ökumenisches Studienwerk der EKD) in Bochum, he fostered a relationship with - FIDENE - UNIJUÍ, a Brazilian public university in the south, to encourage postgraduate studies in Germany, France, Belgium, Great Britain and Spain while supporting them in such a way so that they could advance their work and refuse funding from the military government in Brazil in the 1970s - funding that would undoubtedly come with strings attached.

    And then, Pastor Heinz wanted to do more.

    He asked the church to approve the acceptance of political prisoners and refugees.

    As Walter Franz, a Ph.D., Professor of Sociology at the Northeast Regional University of Rio Grande do Sul - Unijuí put it, "Pastor Heinz, as a Christian and as a humanist, committed himself to the opening of the Ecumenical Studies Project in Bochum for those whose lives were in danger because of repressive state politics in their country of origin -- they were given spots to study there regardless of creed or ideological convictions.

    The Ecumenical Language School Project and Heinz Dressel demonstrate in their politics and actions that social development is possible when diversity and all that, which makes us different, is comprehensively acknowledged with cooperation and solidarity..."

    Pastor Heinz and I sit down on the couch in his office.

    He looks down, smiles and breaks into dialogue as he remembers an exchange he had in his travels:

    "Ah I hear you help the communists..." someone said.

    He wasn't sure if it was meant as a joke or not but he laughed and simply responded,

    "I help anybody who is in need and...and I have helped people whose life is at risk because of their government.

    They are, as far as I know, still humans in need."

    In between anecdotes he sings to me in English, songs he tells me, "the American GIs left behind during the war..."

    This is my second time in Nuremberg.

    The first was to interview him for a documentary I have been working on for some time, Portrait(s) of a Revolutionary.

    He was incredibly important to the life of the protagonist of my film, Maria Auxiliadora Lara Barcelos as he provided her with a scholarship at the ÖSW and a place to live while studying. In 1971 she was forced to leave Brazil, then in 1973 she, following the coup of Pinochet, was forced to leave Chile. She floated from place to place, until, by word of mouth in Köln, she heard about Pastor Heinz. She found the pastor and found refuge in West Germany.

    On June 5th, I am showing an early version of my film at the FDCL e.V. Forschungs- und Dokumentationszentrum Chile Lateinamerika in Berlin (http://www.fdcl.org/event/portraits-of-a-revolutionary/).

    I invited Pastor Heinz. But due to a series of unfortunate personal circumstances he does not know when he will be able to go to Berlin or travel anywhere to see a film, for that matter.

    Naturally, I brought the film to him.

    The hardships he has faced and has helped others navigate through, has not made him bitter or cynical.

    In fact, we made fun of "warmongering idiots" and the hilarity of language.

    Regarding the latter, he recalled his first move to Brazil in 1953 and one of the several linguistic misunderstandings that he would have:

    "Como vai pastor?" someone asked him.

    To which he responded,

    "Vai de Santa Rosa, Ônibus!"

    His new friend seemed confused, and the Pastor felt like he had been falling short on his Portuguese skills. He would soon after laugh at his misunderstanding.

    Let me explain:

    "Como vai" is an idiomatic expression that means, "How are you? or How's it going?" but literally it can mean: "How will you go [to where you are going]" or "By what means do you get to where you are going." Nevertheless, It is most commonly used in its idiomatic form and so the confusion experienced by his new Brazilian amigo was warranted. The pastor responded to a greeting by stating the name of a local bus.

    We talked about the role of the church past & present and his countless moments of self doubt as he was questioned for his "progressive" ideas. I shared my own personal turmoil with religion.

    In a kind and assertive tone Pastor Heinz makes the following concept very clear to me:

    "If this work is not about love and about loving humans, then I don't know what it is about..."



    ~



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    Anita – 2017 – 16mm




    tradução:
    num canto que parecia fora do lugar,
    achei uma planta fora do lugar,
    não sei porque mas pensei em levar,
    não sei porque mas pensei nos meus amigos,
    enfim, de certa forma levei a plantinha comigo



    jordan, polina, sara, nate, pom, eliza, taylor, peter



    there are more stars than
    grains of sand on the planet–
    a revelation.

    site by nate for lanna