Bay of All Saints
PRODS Davis Coombe, Diane Markrow
CAM/ED Annie Eastman
MUS Koven Smith, Jeff Linsenmaier
PROD CO A Crowded Peninsula / the Milkhaus
When the poor of Bahia, Brazil were left with nowhere else to turn, they descended to the shoreline and cobbled together palafitas: dilapidated shacks teetering on stilts over a bay teeming with trash and sewage. In the ensuring years, these "water slums" have become an equally fantastical and disquieting sight: akin to The Swiss Family Robinson set in an ecological wasteland. With the government now having slated the palafitas for demolition, Annie Eastman’s arresting and compassionate documentary transports us inside these ramshackle structures. Serving as our guide is Norato, an extroverted repairman with an intimate and encyclopedic knowledge of the residents. In turn, he introduces us to three resolute single mothers who’ve turned these hovels into homes.
"The documentary eschews stereotypical portrayals of Brazilian slums as the festering ground for prostitution and drug trafficking. Instead, it seeks out the stories whose protagonists are moved to articulate their desire for basic human rights, and the need for self-determination… [It garners] attention for its fearless and engaging storytelling, its flights of humor and lyricism, which nevertheless don’t obscure the seething anger and desperation of Brazil’s most needy… As a document, it resists demonizing the palafitas, suggesting that its intricate network of neighbor support, community rallying, and slum-economy forms a coherent, if closed, microcosm, far from the privileges of ordinary citizens."—Ela Bittencourt, Slant