Filmed in 1964, the year that marked the beginning of the military coup in Brazil, The Interview is a documentary that condenses the aspirations of a generation and society in continuous transformation. Crafted from interviews with young women, Solberg (re)constructs the conventional, idealised profile of Brazilian women – working through imposed ideas around marriage, sex, happiness, work, and social roles.
Solberg’s first film, The Interview was born out of her personal frustrations with the constrictive roles of women within Brazilian society, as well as the realisation that her career trajectory would be different from that of her male colleagues. Solberg recorded conversations with 70 middle-class women in Rio de Janeiro, women who had shared a similar upbringing to her own, eliciting their views on childhood aspirations, University education, sex before marriage, and politics. Wishing to remain off screen, the women are heard in voiceover only. Solberg accompanies their disembodied voices with visuals of a woman (played by her sister-in-law, Glória Solberg) undergoing the ritual preparations for a wedding. Despite their privileged backgrounds, Solberg’s film exposes the women’s dissatisfaction and lack of freedoms, and their frank testimony serves to critique the idealised imagery we see on screen. The final part of the film brings added political context, referring to the overthrow of left-wing President João Goulart, and presents news footage of a conservative women’s group marching in support of the new military dictatorship. Placing bourgeoisie womanhood under the lens, Solberg’s multifaceted work explores their subjugation, as well as complicity, under patriarchy.
~ Alice Miller
Helena Solberg is a pioneer of political documentary and a rare feminist presence to emerge from the Cinema Novo movement in Brazil in the 1960s. Born in São Paulo, Solberg began her career in the late 60s with two short films that would become defining depictions of the era, before going on to produce a seminal body of work concerned with the interconnected social, political, and representational issues facing women and the Latin American diaspora.
Her debut short, The Interview (1966), now considered the first Brazilian feminist film, and second short fiction film Noon (1969) garnered Solberg international recognition, with invitations to film festivals in Europe and abroad.
Since moving to the United States in 1970, she has directed and produced several feature-length documentaries. Throughout the 1980s, she directed several films broadcast nationally on the PBS network, and continued to make work between the Unites States and Brazil up until 2017. Her work has won numerous prizes and been selected for festivals internationally including in Melbourne, Rio, Nyon, Havana, Chicago, and MOMA, New York amongst others.
Meu Corpo Minha Vida (2017), A Alma da Gente (2013), Palavra (En)cantada (2009), Vida de Menina (2005), Brasil em Cores Vivas (1997), Carmen Miranda: Bananas is my Business (1995), The Forbidden Land (A Terra Proibida) (1990), Made In Brazil (1987), Home of the Brave (Berço dos Bravos) (1986), Portrait of a Terrorist (Retrato de Um Terrorista) (1986), Chile: By Reason or By Force (1983), The Brazilian Connection (A Conexão Brasileira) (1982), From the Ashes: Nicaragua Today (Nicarágua Hoje) (1982), Simplesmente Jenny (1978), The Emerging Woman (A Nova Mulher) (1975), The Double Day (La Doble Jornada) (1975), Meio Dia (1970), A Entrevista (1966)