My Own Private Hell / Inferninho (2018) Dir. Guto Parente

A beautiful film that illustrates how a little slice of extraordinary life can survive in a dark, fairytale environment.
Corina J Poore

My Own Private Hell / Inferninho is an almost imaginary space, a bar in an unknown district in an unknown town. Perhaps next door. To a group of misfits, who cannot really survive out in the hard world, this Inferninho Bar is home.

This bar space is la metaphor that we never manage to see. It is a presence at all times, in the shadows, a dark, intimate space into which we stare, like voyeurs, but is really only created in our minds.

In reality, Inferninho bar is not so much a little hell, but more of a little heaven where this fascinating group of individuals can be themselves. They supposedly work for little or no pay, but that is not why they are there, they belong, they are like a family:  be they a human-size rabbit, (played by Rafael Martins), a silver man, a sailor (Demick Lopes) searching for a home, or the trans owner of the bar who dreams of leaving. We are transported into this world and we cannot fail to be moved.

Like in some of Cassavette’s films, the camera focuses on the faces, on the souls that inhabit this space. We never get a clear image or a long shot. There are some tables, some chairs and objects, a harmonica played by a mute, a singer, Luizianne (played by Samya de Lavor) who hangs on each hypnotic note as if she could never let it go, surrounded by a shimmering backdrop, but it is all a part of her existence. After suffering an attack with blows to her head, she sings gradually more and more out of tune and, more and more entranced, we go along with her.

A sailor enters this space and for a while upsets the balance – then the whole place is threatened with demolition, of being bought out with a compulsory purchase order, so they are told, to make way for a faceless and vast new development, over which they have no powers to resist. At first, they are all shattered and intimidated, it is like a dagger in their hearts, but they decide to find a way to survive.  

Deusimar (a wonderful performance by Yuri Yamamoto) is the trans owner of this bar and her love story is part of the hinge around which this motley crew revolves, each one for a reason of their own. It pulls together those who have nowhere else to go and each in his way, contributes his humanity to find a way out. Deusimar is the central character around whom everything moves, starting out tough and even ruthless in her business, but her love for the sailor Jarbas changes the dynamics and exposes her vulnerabilities, putting everyone’s lives at risk.

At a time where in Brazil there has been a 30 % increase in LGBT motivated attacks, this gentle film is a timely reminder of our humanity.

My Own Private Hell (2018) - IFFR Trailer