Fifteen minutes into the movie and I was sobbing on my seat, reliving it all again. And by “it all” I mean the constitutional coup d’etat that occurred in Brazil in 2016. Maria Augusta Ramos’ documentary The Trial/ O Processo follows the events around the removal from office of President Dilma Rousseff, who was a member of a leftist resistance group during the military dictatorship that endured 21 years in the country. Roussef was also the first woman to take office as President in Brazil. She won the election and was reelected in 2014, but the opposition wasn’t satisfied. In a leaked audio file, you can hear a former Senator and Minister say, “man, the easiest solution is to put [Vice-President] Temer [in command]. [We need to] make a great national deal, with [the]Federal Court of Justice, with everything.” That’s when everything started to crumble.
Throughout the documentary, Ramos follows some of the main players of the coup, especially the defense team, but never gets close to the former President. The campaign of the prosecution and the opponents soon became blatantly misogynistic, linking her alleged incapacity to govern the country to her being a woman, filling sentences with sexist slurs. The movie shows the not-so-hidden schemes of political machination. It all culminates with former congressman, now President, Jair Bolsonaro voting in favor of her impeachment in honour of Colonel Ustra, famous for his particular cruelty and brutality and for torturing Rousseff herself during her imprisonment during the dictatorship.
In a broad sense The Trial/O Processo is a good movie to meditate about the rise of an extreme right-wing around the globe. The whole process of the trial is portrayed as almost surreal and always perplexing (hence the reference to Kafka in the title). The experience of watching it in a theatre was collective and cathartic, with the crowd cheering, laughing, crying and booing according to the situations presented; it was all too close to home. Ramos caught in her movie the complex political machine that brought Brazil to its current situation. At the end all we have is a sense of loss, reminding us of the nightmare we’ve been living in since then.
Film critic, anthropologist and researcher. Master in Social Anthropology and PhD candidate in the same area, with research on gender, body and cinema. She has been writing on the Estante da Sala blog since 2009 and is a co-creator of Feito por Elas, a project that aims to discuss and disseminate women’s work in the cinema. Member of the Brazilian Film Critics Association.