26 July 2017 | Rodrigo_Amaro
An exceptional documentary
"Tancredo: A Travessia" ("Tancredo: The Crossing") is a masterful documentary by Silvio Tendler focusing on the life of Tancredo Neves, one of the most influential characters of Brazilian politics, someone with a perfect political background who accomplished all possible positions in several different legislation and offices and became the first civil president after 21 years of military regime but sadly he died a few months after the election, failing to secure the position of president. Here's an extensive and brilliant documentary that reflects about Neves career and those 30-something days where the nation was in complete anguish about the possible recovering of a sick man, who was considered the country's salvation after our wasted years and moments living under a brutal regime - lately, there's factions of the crowd who still think getting back to democracy was a mistake due to the many corruption in politics that followed after 1985 in possibly all administrations.
Heart of the matter in this film is important and one that conquers our hearts. You have to look back to the context where Neves lived and breathed in politics, and what society was crying for in terms of more rights and law advances. Tancredo was councilman, congressman, senator, governor and during a time Prime Minister (when the position required an effective one); and with a weakened military regime and a turn back to democracy was possible, he was elected president of the nation - indirect election after the failure of Diretas Já movement that claimed direct vote for the people in 1984. The biography bits doesn't last long in the film; the real point is to follow the moments when Neves is considered for presidency, the election that could define Brazil's transition, our crossing back to democracy, and eventually how we sadly failed (in terms) by losing the ideal man for the job.
Neves was one of the few who used politics as an art instead of just a system that allows things to get done. It's about the art of dialogue, compromise, make use of allies and enemies in order to reach a common goal, and someone who perfected the art of diplomacy without changing his own beliefs and making a positive effort to make the nation a place worth living. Testimonies from friends, acquaintances and family members are all detailed, solid and filled with admiration for the man, very revealing but the one percent that got away refers to the always controversial and crucial stories about his death - a fact that in 1985 was surrounded with mystery since people thought the military wouldn't allow him Neves to take office. At the time it was revealed that diverticulitis was the cause but then 20 years later the doctors revealed that he had a tumor and decided to not disclose such fact in order to not alarm the nation. Many conspiracy theories and lack of proper information when it comes to those facts, not covered by this documentary but it's food for thought.
I've seen it twice and it gets better at each view. Extensive, powerful archive footage plus the testimonies from personalities such as former presidents, politicians, musicians and Neves grandson (now a despicable senator involved in several corruption controversies and I think his grandfather would be deeply ashamed of him if he was alive); and besides the interviews there's plenty of nostalgia of a period where people fought for their rights, a change in the system and how a whole nation was enthusiastic about a shift in the game but had to let all the tears roll down when the promise of better days didn't come the way they expected. Possibly the very last time when millions cried over the death of a politician. Things were never the same after Tancredo's death and his dying words to his grandson tells it all: "I didn't deserve this". Neither did we. 10/10