Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Quilombo de Palmares was a real-life democratic society, created in Brazil in the 17th century. This incredibly elaborate (and surprisingly little-known) film traces the origins of Quilombo, which began as a community of freed slaves. The colony becomes a safe harbor for other outcasts of the world, including Indians and Jews. Ganga Zumba (Toni Tornado) becomes president of Quilombo, the first freely elected leader in the Western Hemisphere. Naturally, the ruling Portuguese want to subjugate Zumba and his followers, but the Quilombians are ready for their would-be oppressors. The end of this Brave New World is not pleasant, but the followers of Zumba and his ideals take to the hills, where they honor his memory to this day. Writer/director Carlos Diegues takes every available opportunity to compare the rise and fall of Quilombo with the state of affairs in modern-day Brazil. Still, the film is refreshingly free of self-righteous oratory, and serves as an excellent introduction to anyone intrigued by the political history of South America.
community, democracy, freedom, leader, Portuguese [nationality], slavery