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Real stories that mark the DF gain prominence at film festivals

Feature film 'Maria Luiza' is awarded as the best international documentary in Mexico. Meanwhile, public school teachers gain a voice among outstanding women in the country

Mariana Machado

The story of the first transsexual soldier in the Brazilian Armed Forces has gained international prominence. The feature film Maria Luiza received, this week, the award for best international documentary at the Humano Film Festival 2020, which took place in Mexico. The story gained national media after a series of reports by journalist Marcelo Abreu, and published in Correio Braziliense in 2000. Born in the Goiás municipality of Ceres, Maria Luiza da Silva, 60 years old, has never identified with the male gender. At the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), he worked for 22 years as an aircraft mechanic. Although she performed the work with dedication, she was forced to retire, on half her salary, when the High Command diagnosed her as unfit for military service, but not unfit for any other work. This was the beginning of a nearly two-decade struggle for justice. In May of this year, Minister Herman Benjamin, of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) recognized the discrimination suffered when she was compulsorily retired. The magistrate highlighted the illegality of the FAB's action, and confirmed Maria Luiza's right to remain in the functional property she occupies, in Cruzeiro Novo, until full retirement is implemented for the last post of the military career in the ranks.

Much to celebrate

Now, the documentary award is added to the achievements. “There is a repercussion far beyond what we imagined and that is very good”, celebrates the star of the feature. Having agreed to the production brings strength and information so that the country knows how to deal with similar cases. “Today, we have some other soldiers in the same fight and to them I say: don't accept a disconnection and continue the fight. All will be winners. We have a well-established jurisprudence, so the message is to defend your rights. These people will always have my support.” For the director, Marcelo Diaz, there is much to celebrate. “Talking about human rights, in this moment that we live, about the right to be who you want to be, in a poetic way, is something very special. Having this recognition gives us the impetus to continue, not only with the film, but with other projects on transformation and social impact”, he declares. The 80-minute production has already been shown at festivals in Brazil, the United States, Mexico, Colombia, France and Switzerland. In May, the premiere in Brazilian cinemas would take place, but, due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus, it had to be postponed. Now, the expectation is to open in November, to then be broadcast on television channels and streaming platforms. “Our recordings started at the end of 2016, and the first exhibition was in April 2019, at the É Tudo Verdade Festival, in São Paulo. When the film was over, people lined up, crying, to hug her”, recalls Marcelo. “Receiving this award now is very important because everything starts to have a greater meaning. It is no longer a film about Maria Luiza, and becomes about human rights, with the issue of affection and, what seems corny, but very important: love.”


Achieving gender equality is one of the sustainable development goals established by the United Nations (UN). To do this, it is important to achieve equity in the labor market as well. This is the theme of the documentary Como ela faz, directed by Tatiana Vilela and which addresses issues such as the presence of women in high positions in companies, political participation, and the impacts of motherhood. The film received the award for Best Foreign Short Film, given by the Hollywood Women’s Film Festival 2020. Productions, made entirely by women, began in April 2019 and are in post-production to complete the 80-minute feature film. For registration at the festival, however, a short version of 22 minutes was made. For the plot, 12 women from different professions and social classes were chosen and, from them, other stories unfold. “We have a lot to learn, as privileged people, and to listen. (Making the movie) was a lesson in race, and gender. If we go after learning, we can understand a little more about the vision of Brazil and women”, assesses Tatiana.


The “cast” is important: among the interviewees are the player of the Brazilian Women's Soccer Team Cristiane Rozeira, the philosopher Djamila Ribeiro, the federal deputy Tabata Amaral, and the teacher Gina Vieira, creator of the Inspiring Women project. “The greatest joy is the contribution, from a social point of view, that this documentary will bring. We know the weight of the audiovisual to build other narratives, provoke social changes and bring other representations”, highlights Gina. The team also monitored the 24-hour routine of teacher Gabriela Almeida de Lima, 33 years old. At the time, she was teaching at Centro de Ensino Médio 111 (CEM-111) in Recanto das Emas, and had just had her first child. “When they recorded it, I was on maternity leave. My son was three months old and they approached the woman as a mother and her professional life in parallel”, he recalls. Gabriela and Gina gathered a group of students from CEM-111 for a conversation with the documentary team and they discussed the presence of women in different professions. “Having this award now is a very wonderful feeling of recognition for the work we do. Having participated in this documentary was very important in my professional life and that of my students. Having this international recognition confirms and shows everything that works in public schools”, celebrates Gabriela.

inspiring women

The project, started in 2014, brings to the classroom stories of women who made history. Students discover the biographies of personalities such as Cora Coralina, read books such as I Am Malala and The Diary of Anne Frank. In addition, they choose, in the end, an inspiring woman in their lives. The work is in 41 schools in the DF, and has already reached Campo Grande.

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