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The Sights and Voices of Dispossession: The Fight for the Land and the Emerging Culture of the MST (The Movement of the Landless Rural Workers of Brazil)


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Studies, statements & references -> Statements by Intellectuals and Artists 13 resources (Compiled by Else R P Vieira. Translation © Bernard McGuirk.)

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Tetê Morais
(Brazilian film director and producer. Pioneer and innovative work on the land conflicts and the woman. Several national and international prizes.)


From Land for Rose to Rose’s Dream

"In 1984 and 85, when I was doing some work for BBC television in London, with an English crew, for a series of documentaries about Brazil, we travelled throughout the whole country. And something that impressed me greatly at that time was the fact in almost all the places we visited away from the capital we came up against land conflicts.
It was then that I began to realize that I wanted to make a film, a Brazilian documentary on the question of the land, and I decided too that I wanted to relate woman and land given that the presence of women in all such situations was very strong, very powerful, and woman is very tied to the question of keeping people alive, on a daily basis, feeding them... that too is a characteristic of the earth-mother.
I then undertook a project called Mulheres da Terra (Women of the Land) that was commended in an EMBRAFILME competition. I was preparing to film when, suddenly, I began to notice in the newspapers, in October 1985, some very impressive photos of the Fazenda Annoni encampment, the result of the first occupation of an unproductive latifundium by the MST. Here was a completely different image. I resolved to go and see for myself what was happening there. My first real contact was very impressive, though it was just a visit I made to the encampment with an American journalist with whom I was working at the time. From that visit then was born, really, the conviction that I had to film there because it was a completely new story, and it was very difficult for me to imagine that there was such poverty, so many dispossessed landless people. It was then that I abandoned the idea of filming in the North-East or the North of Brazil, in order to prepare for filming in Rio Grande do Sul.
Almost ten years after having made the first film, Terra para Rose (Land for Rose), I began to think that it was time to take up the story again. Why? I felt the desire, evidently, to meet those people again and to know what had actually happened to them after they had been settled. And, of course, I knew vaguely what was happening. I had some contacts eventually with the persons who were coordinating the Sem Terra Movement. And also the landless movement had been transformed in the intervening ten years into a national movement, attaining a great political importance in the country as a whole.
Terra para Rose is a very epic film, full of movement, treks, struggles, but even so I tried to ensure that the story was also told through the feelings, the emotions, taking the camera always as close to the intimacy, the heart of the story's protagonists. In O Sonho de Rose, I reflected too on making a film about the everyday rhythms of the settlements, the farms. In truth, a life on such farms is a monotonous business - the people wake up, go out into the fields, milk the cows, look after the animals, plant, reap. I attempted to make the main focus in O Sonho de Rose be exactly the feelings, the emotions, of the characters and of the passing of time... indeed I find that change is the focus of O Sonho de Rose. For that reason I also used a lot of flash-back to show the changes which had taken place not only in the situations but also in the people themselves, internal changes, feelings, emotions, ways of looking at the world".

About the Author
Tetê Morais. Brazilian film director and producer. Pioneer and innovative work on the land conflicts and the woman. Several national and international prizes. The woman in the struggle for land. Genesis of the documentary Land for Rose: Mulheres da Terra (Women of theLand). A new history emerging with the encampment on the Annoni Farm, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Rose's Dream, ten yeras later, in the settlements, focuses on the shifting situations and perceptions of the world.

Extract from the statement of Tetê Moraes on DVD da Terra, that contains the films Terra para Rose/ Land for Rose and O Sonho de Rose/ Rose's Dream and various other statements of critics, the film-crew, of Chico Buarque, Sebastião Salgado, etc., launched in August 2002 and distributed by VERSÁTIL HOME VÍDEO ( Reproduction authorized by the author.


November 2002

Resource ID:



Compiled by Else R P Vieira. Translation © Thomas Burns.

Annoni Farm
‘A farm of 9000 hectares, located in Sarandi, Rio Grande do Sul, which was disappropriated in 1975 and remained in judicial litigation until 1987, when more than 2000 families of the MST occupied it. They pressured the government and the Judiciary into making the settlement effective, this finally taking place in 1992. By virtue of the settlement, the new municipality of Pontão came into being, whose currect mayor is Nelson Gracielli, an old MST militant now settled’ (Fernandes, Bernardo Mançano e Stedile, João Pedro. Brava gente: a trajetória do MST e a luta pela terra no Brasil. São Paulo: Editora Fundação Perseu Abramo, 1999, p. 149, n. 1). 

Latifundium (plural latifundia)
'Landed estate, or large rural property, has two definitions: landed-estate by size, which is a rural estate with an area greater than six-hundred times the average size of family property; landed-estate by use is a rural estate with an area lesser than six-hundred times the average size of family property whose lands are uncultivated' (Fernandes, Bernardo Mançano. Pequeno Vocabulário da Luta pela Terra. Unpublished). 

MST - Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra/ Movement of the Landless Agrarian Workers
'Foundation: On January 4, 1984, the MST was set up as a national movement, after a long period of struggle (1979-1983) located in several states. It was founded during the 1st National Meeting of the MST (q.v.), which took place in Cascavel, Paraná, January 21-14, 1984. At this meeting, the general objectives, the main demands, and the forms of organization and struggle were defined. Leadership of the land-struggle from thirteen states in Brazil took part.

General Objectives:

1 — For the land to be only in the hands of those who work it;

2 — To fight for a society without exploiters and the exploited;

3 — To be an autonomous mass movement within the union movement to achieve agrarian reform;

4 — To organize rural workers at the bases;

5 — To encourage the participation of the rural workers in unions and political parties;

6 — To be dedicated to the formation of leaders and to build a political leadership of workers;

7 — To connect with urban workers and workers from Latin América.


1 — Legalization of the worker-occupied lands;

2 — Establishement of a maximum area for rural properties;

3 — Disappropriation of all latifundia;

4 - Disappropriation of lands belonging to mulitnational companies;

5 — Demarcation of indigenous lands, with the resettlement of poor occupants in areas of the region;

6 — Investigation and punishment of all crimes committed against rural workers;

7— End of government incentives and subsidies to Proálcool and other projects that benefit the landowners;

8 — Change of government agricultural policies to give priority to the small farmer;

9 — Immediate extinction of the GETAT and the GEBAM;

10 - End of the colonization policy' (Calendário Histórico dos Trabalhadores. São Paulo: MST, Setor de Educação. 3a. edição, 1999, pp. 19-20). 

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