Constantly treading the line between documentary and fiction, The City of The Future veers from tragic memories of the past to new perspectives of the future. This vibrant and delicate feature deals with the forced removal of the population from five small towns for the establishment of a hydroelectric power plant and the third biggest artificial lake in the world, the Sobradinho Dam. This took place during the 1960s in the semi-arid hinterlands of the Brazilian Northeast, in the state of Bahia. This sets the basis for the introduction of the film’s narrative.
The film begins in a classroom during the present, with fragments of a documentary portraying the exodus of the people to newly created city of Serra do Ramalho, in a very inhospitable location. Ironically, this is the “city of the future”. In his class, history teacher Gilmar introduces the students to their origins.
Perhaps this is not the ideal setting for an usual gay love triangle to unfold. Not only is the climate dry and unpleasant, but also locals are very conservative and chauvinistic. But hold on! Polyamorous relations are becoming increasingly common and acceptable in many parts of the world. A 2014 Newsweek article estimated that more than 500,000 polyamorous relationships existed in the US. Across Europe many organisations have been funded to support and provide resources for those curious about polyamory, ethical non-monogamy, and relationship anarchy. One fine example is organisation Polyamory in the UK.
Homosexuality or bisexuality are not the central theme and leitmotif of the film. Instead, it focuses on advent of polyamory, the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships where individuals may have more than one partner, with the knowledge and consent of all partners. Watching the connection amongst Gilmar (Gilmar Santos), Milla (Milla Suzart) and Igor (Igor Santos) sparks our knowledge of a ‘new’ possible way of establishing loving relationships, pointing to non-traditional family models. Milla is expecting a child from Gilmar, who loves both Milla and Igor. Could they maybe form the “family of the future”?
The City of The Future is a lyrical account of times – past, present and future. It constantly time travels from future to present to past and back, and we are smoothly and seamlessly transported through long periods with strong and clever ellipsis that leaves the audience to fill the gaps with their imagination.
Milla’s confident and unusual attitude towards sex and love is akin to Darlene in the Brazilian classic Me, You, Them (Andrucha Waddington, 2000) – which also deals with a love triangle. So does the also Brazilian film Lower City (Sérgio Machado, 2015). The mise-en-scène and the desire of Igor to become a rodeo cowboy evokes the atmosphere of Neon Bull (Gabriel Mascaro, 2015). It’s almost as if filmmakers Cláudio Marques and Marília Hughes cherry-picked some of the best moments of cinema from Northeastern Brazil, rearranging the pieces in order to create their own cinematic identity. City of The Future is their second feature; their first film After the Rain was warmly received by critics and audiences in Brazil just three years ago.
This is a very universal love story, not just a Brazilian affair. The conflict between traditionalists and those who push social boundaries will resonate with many countries. There’s something magic about how the directors illustrate these contrasts. They focus on the love and bonding, instead of resorting to the more facile solution: extracting drama from the difficulties.
City of The Future was first shown at the V Olhar do Cinema, a film festival in Southern Brazil. It is currently seeking distributors outside Brazil. You can contact the director Cláudio Marques via email email@example.com for more information about distribution and exhibition of the film. DMovies believes that the film has global potential not just within the LGBT circuit, but also for audiences keen to see a candid and novel approach to romance.
Below is the film trailer: