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Using Film to Show Culture: Gustavo Nery Presents “Way Beyond Samba”

Written by on April 16, 2024

Image courtesy of the official Normal Theater website

NORMAL, Ill. – Film can be used to express different experiences, cultures or ideas. At the Normal Theater in Uptown Normal, graduate student Gustavo Nery uses film to showcase Brazilian culture. Nery curated a collection of three films, titled “Way Beyond Samba,” with the last film debuting this weekend.

Coming from Brazil to Bloomington-Normal, Nery believes it is important to open the eyes of those to other cultures. He selected films from Brazilian filmmaker Kleber Mendoça Filho, who, like Nery, is from Northeastern Brazil. Nery wanted the films he selected to start a conversation amongst viewers.

“I knew that after the screening of the movies we would have follow-up about politics, about culture in general,” Nery said. “His movies have a lot of questions that we can start to debate with everyone who is watching the movies.”

Nery wants people to leave the theater with a broader prospective of the world and to understand more about life outside of the United States. When Nery moved to the U.S., he faced a lot of cultural differences and called it a “reality shock.” It made him want to understand more, and he hopes that those who see these films will step out of their bubble to interact with other cultures.

 “We live in a bubble; we honestly don’t think about the world outside of it,” Nery said. “There are a lot of cultural differences that I faced when I moved … and I know that from people who are not as interested in stepping out of the bubble but having that reality shock is really eye-opening and makes you want to understand more.”

After the “Way Beyond Samba” collection finishes its run at the Normal Theater, Nery has ideas for developing additional film series. He is considering more films from Filho, popular movies in general or films that he believes are essential for film students to view. Nery also hopes to bring more traffic to the Normal Theater.

“I really want people to see how the Normal Theater is like,” Nery said. “I got surprised how many students and faculty have never been there. It is a beautiful place … I want to pick some movies that will make people want to go there and have this experience that is very unique.”

Nery’s last film selection is titled “Pictures of Ghosts” and will be shown at the Normal Theater on April 18-21. Nery graduates this spring and plans to go back to Brazil to study communications and media this fall.