“PAULISTAS”— Struggling to Survive


Struggling to Survive

Amos Lassen

Filmmaker Daniel Nolasco’s documentary “Paulistas” is set somewhere in the Central Brazilian savannah,, a rural region in the state of Goiás, where the Paulistas are struggling to survive. No young people live in the region and monoculture farming and the exploitation of water resources have left the countryside fallow.  The documentary follows Nolasco’s cousins – three brothers Samuel, Vincinius and Rafael – after their move to the urban region of Catalão.  Until the 1970s, the rural region was formed by a group of small farms, all with a few acres of land and subsistence agriculture, and the region’s residents were all from the same family.  This began to change in the late ’80s, with the arrival of soybean monoculture in the state and the purchase of the farms by landowners, and the exodus of the rural population began.  Yet, each July, the departed young return for vacation, arriving from their new homes in modern cities to visit their parents and a way of life on the farm that’s nearly extinct.  

“Paulistas” brings together images of the daily lives of the people and the hydroelectric plant built in 2013, with images and sounds of the dead forest and meadows by the river or the soy plantation that nearly overtakes the few houses that still stand. The future and the past are on full display.

The director prefers to use an almost impersonal observation of the somewhat desolate environment for his personal portrait of the regions of Paulistas and Soledade, in the interior of Goiás. We are there during the July vacation, when young people take advantage of their college vacations in urban centers, as is implied, and return to their parents’ homes and lands. In this excerpt from the daily lives of families of small agricultural producers. The focus is on Samuel, Vinícius and Rafael, who are Daniel Nolasco’s second cousins and how each of them deals with this return to rural routine, integrating more or less with the activities of the farm, while they go out on a motorcycle through the fields of the Cerrado or go hunting. We see the dichotomy builds musically, in opposition to the backwoods roots of the local party to rock psychedelic of the countrymen.


  • Documentary Short “Green Sea” (Director Daniel Nolasco, 2019) 

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