It is Night in America was filmed in the Brasilia Zoo, which has been a refuge for animals displaced by urban development since the inception of Brazil’s modernist capital city. Alternating between close-ups of the resident owls, wolves, capybaras, and giant anteaters and dizzying skylines of Vaz’s native Brasilia, the filmmaker crafts a fable of animals venturing into the urban twilight to reclaim their habitat. Shot on expired 16mm film stock, using “day-for-night” techniques, the film’s deep midnight blues and immersive sounds have the makings of a grand anti-Western that reflects on displacement and extinction through other-than-human perspectives. (MoMA)
“Vaz devotes a brief space to historical context: The construction of Brasília as a political project during the government of Juscelino Kubitschek (1956-1961). We see recordings of animals being removed during the transfer of the Brazil’s capital from Rio de Janeiro to the new city in a construction project that promised to accomplish 50 years of development in five.
These mistakes left hostages to fortune, even down to the present day; ‘It’s a historical crisis, we know very much that the return of the ghosts that we’re dealing with today are coming from the heritage of the military dictatorship, which is only a modern way to bring colonialism into a contemporary age. We are never leaving the past, the past never passes,’ she emphasizes.”
Manel Dominguez and Gabriel Linhares Falcao1