Today I went to a screening of the documentary film, ‘Fronteira Da Grandeza: Brazil’s Relationship with its Borders’, with the two filmmakers, Dodge Billingsley and Cory Leonard present. I did not know what to expect besides knowing the documentary was about Brazil. As part of the De Montfort University’s monthly ‘Documentary Media Festival,’ the film was screened at the DMU’s Mill Studios. The screening was open to the wider public. John Coster had organised the event and invited his students to attend. There must have been around 40-50 people in the audience, most of them not students it seemed. The screening started promptly and afterwards the filmmakers were available for questions.

John Coster announces the next ‘Documentary Media’ event with Mark Craig

I felt the film with its 72 minutes was a bit too long. During the question and answer session, it emerged that the filmmakers worked on a limited budget and spent two years shooting the film. I wonder what the budget was and who provided and sponsored it. This is important because one gentleman asked a question about possible imported ideology. The filmmakers explained that the film was not meant to give concrete answers but rather raise questions.

Map of Brazil and bordering countries

The gist of the film was, as far as I can understand, that Brazil significantly extended its borders westwards in a semi-circle into the Amazon rainforest. This region brings together ten different countries such as Venezuela, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia etc., in fact, Brazil borders every country in South America with the exception of Chile and Ecuador.

Fronteira Da Grandeza, Brazil sees themselves, Brazilians see themselves as this nation that could be great. This is a great nation, they should be. – Dodge Billingsley

The Amazon rainforest is an area which is extremely hot, with 100% humidity and is very difficult to navigate. The only way to navigate it is by boat because there are many mountains and mountain ridges. The contributing rivers that make up the Amazon are originating in Brazil, Venezuela and Paraguay and others.

I have discussed the ‘Documentary Media Evening’ with the two filmmakers, Dodge Billingsley and Cory Leonard, in more detail in my podcast below.

In summary, it can be said that ‘Fronteira Da Grandeza’ is a documentary that tells the history of Brazil’s national expansion of its borders and its efforts to secure them. One can also hear the voices of the local people of Brazil and what they think of the border and their future despite the challenges coming across its borders.

Moreover, it is a storied history of infiltration, colonisation and annexation as Brazil seeks to establish control of its borders and territory and reduce the flow of drugs, guns and ammunition which sparks off violence in the major cities.

The film poster

Poster advertising the film screening

In the following YouTube video, Dodge Billingsley speaks at the Kennedy Centre about the film and about the border series he has done, which secured him major awards. He also answers some interesting questions regarding the size of the Brazilian border in comparison to the US borders.

Below is a Twitter feed from Dodge Billingsley about Fronteira Da Grandeza.

There is also a Facebook page of Fronteira Da Grandeza where one can find a short movie clip of a border control officer in his speedboat patrolling the Amazon river.