MY FATHER, MY MASTER
WORK IN PROGRESS
The documentary explores the depths of a father-son, master-disciple relationship within the world of Capoeira. 65 year-old Virgilio is one of the greatest Masters of Capoeira Angola living in the its birth place Brazil. His students are moving overseas or practicing a more performatic Capoeira. Virgilio is losing interest in the traditional ritual that gave his adoptive son Roxinho a purpose to live. Roxinho lives in Australia and together with his students; organizes the first International Conference of Capoeira Angola in Sydney to receive Virgilio as a special guest. Through the organizing of the event and the receiving of the great Master, the documentary explores the complex human and cultural relationships in Capoeira world. How does this philosophy created by Africa slaves in 18th century Brazil translate to contemporary Australians?
Roxinho was 6 when Master Virgilio saved him from the streets of a poor township in the black heart of Brazil. Within the circle of Capoeira (called “Roda”), Master Virgilio prepared the young boy for the rough real world outside – but Virgilio is now 63 and his students are moving overseas or practicing a more performatic Capoeira, for money. Virgilio is losing interest in the traditional ritual that gave Roxinho a purpose to live.
Roxinho is now an ambitious and determined Master of the ritualistic Capoeira Angola. He lives in Sydney and wants the world to know who his Master is, and give him the respect and recognition he deserves. He passes on his father’s teachings in a new language, to people of all walks of life, preparing them for real life in Australia. Together they organize the First International Conference of Capoeira Angola in Sydney to receive Master Virgilio as a special guest.
Through the organizing of the event and the receiving of the special guest, “My Father, My Master” explores the complex human and cultural relationships within the Capoeira world, in contemporary Sydney. How does this philosophy created by Africa slaves in 18th century Brazil translate to today Australian?
This documentary observes this group of people as they create community and rehearse their lives in the “roda” of Capoeira under the mentorship of Master Roxinho. They are a group of Australians and migrants of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds – all deeply considering how to translate this complex ritual practice into their lives. Amongst them a young Buddhist struggling to integrate the African religious elements of Capoeira into her practice and a Jewish student who questions why the songs of Capoeira pride in Africa, but the lyrics are sung in the colonizing language of Portuguese – he wants to jam in English.
Master Virgilio, the personified tradition arrives from Brazil and the complexity of this culture, of the father-son, master-disciple relationship unravels. In Sydney, Master Roxinho is the master. However, his father still holds traditional knowledge not known by Mestre Roxinho. They take turns in being father and son, master and disciple. It feels like it is a meeting of three generations.
Top Sydney student Fabrice observes this father-son relationship very closely. Fabrice wants to know more about Master Roxinho before he is happy to call him a master. Master Virgilio’s inspiring appearance gives him a sense of history and cultural lineage that has survived generations. He accepts Master Virgilio as his Capoeira Grandfather.
At the end of the conference Master Roxinho cannot contain his emotions at having his father’s knowledge and presence recognized. He cries in gratitude for the role Master Virgilio and Capoeira have played in his life. In his speech, Roxinho also expresses his main concern – the sad endings of great Masters of Capoeira Angola who reach old age without superannuation and without recognition from the younger generation.
Participants bathe their emotions in Australian waters and reflect in the future ahead of them. Master Virgilio is back to his old reality and Master Roxinho has a lot of new ideas on how to keep the tradition alive and his father invigorated and connected.
I was born in Brazil but have live in Australia for the last 9 years. I have strong interests in the African, Brazilian and Australian cultures. I am fascinated by the relationships between the colonized nations that are forming in the South Hemisphere.
There is growing migration of Brazilian and other South American populations to Australia and a growing relationship between these cultures. Brazilian titles are becoming more frequent on SBS television and on music and film festivals across Australia. As a Brazilian-Australian filmmaker I want to help strengthening this cultural connection.
I want to continue to follow the relationship Australia-Brazil in future projects. Developing ideas include exploring how Capoeira is used to help restructure the lives of African refugees in Australia; and exploring the similar legends that exist in both Indigenous Brazilian and Indigenous Australian cultures. My Father, My Master is probably the first of these projects.
The shooting process
I have been shooting this project since August 2007 with the assistance of a few volunteers, friends and companies. With their help I have accumulated aprox 60 hours of HDV footage, digitized and logged most of the material and have reached a 67 minute rough cut.
I believe this project’s strength is the “niche” market of cable TV, DVD sales and festivals. Capoeira is greatest ambassador of Brazilian culture and the Portuguese language. There are 100,000 + Capoeira websites around the world. There are Capoeira and Latin American Film Festivals around the world. There are Latin channels on cable television and there is also the Brazilian Television.
Director & Producer: Paulo Alberton
Camera: Paulo Alberton
Second Cameras: Agostino Marcello, Leah Donovan
Camera Assistants: Janice Pezzoti, Kessaia, Cristina Wulfh
Sound Recordist: Thiago Gallas
Editor: Paulo Alberton
Assistant Editor: Chiara Ridolfi
Watch 9 min character reel.