FORTY MILLION SHOES
The second of CBC's contributions to Intertel – a report on Brazil as seen through the lives of five of its citizens.
“Forty Million Shoes” is the story of a country which exemplifies a common feature of much of Latin America — the rich are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer
Most observers believe that if Brazil “makes it” economically, most of South America will follow. If Brazil cannot make it, few others will. If the West loses out in Brazil, it will lose the balance of power in South America.
This documentary film is an impressionistic report on Brazil, as seen through the lives of five Brazilians. It examines their hopes, their hates, their chances for happiness, and their influence on events in their country.
It is the second Canadian contribution to the Intertel Series, a project by TV networks in Canada, the U.S., England, and Australia, aimed at international understanding through television.
Brazil is the key country of South America. It contains half the land area of the continent and more than half the population. It is the fourth-largest country in the world. But one-half the population is still illiterate, half goes barefoot, half suffers chronic malnutrition. In Recife, in the pro-communist Northeast, only half the working force has jobs. In this area 20 million Brazilians live in poverty as wretched as anywhere in the world. Life-expectancy here is 30 years, average income $8.00 a month.
This area has produced the strongest Fidelista organization on the continent. Although the Communist Party is illegal, it dominates the Peasant League which thrives on the festering discontent of the landless and the jobless. Unless the central government moves rapidly ahead, these Fidelistas will gain dangerous support for the revolution they demand.
“The problems of Brazil are clearly the crucial problems for all the long-suffering peoples of the South American republics,” says Douglas Leiterman who produced and directed the program. “The privileged classes who have an iron grip on the wealth and political structures of their countries are only beginning to show concern for the millions of indigent, often starving peasants and slum-dwellers who beg only the right to work and be paid for their labor.
“A great awakening of the social conscience of Latin America is beginning. But the crucial question is whether it is already too late”.
The poor and hungry, Leiterman reports, have discovered in the example of Cuba and China that there is an alternative to the oppression they have endured for generations under what they call capitalist exploitation.
In Brazil the alternative is represented by the fast-spreading peasant leagues and their communist-oriented leader, Francisco Juliao. “Forty Million Shoes” follows Juliao on his mission of agitation and propaganda into the drought-stricken interior provinces.
The program also examines the lives of a 16-year old daughter of a wealthy Brazilian family which traces its ancestry back 400 years; of an indigent young girl whose father attempted to steal the money she needs to finish her education; of a peasant farmer who ekes out a marginal existence in North-East Brazil, without water and without hope.
Interviewed on the program are Dr. Fernando Lee, one of Brazil’s major industrialists from Sao Paulo, and Louis Alberto Bahia, the influential editor of a Rio de Janiero newspaper who was decorated by the army for helping to prevent riots during the 1960 constitutional crisis. The documentary also deals with the resignation of Brazil’s popular and progressive president Janio Quadros and the dangerous inflationary spiral and political stalemate which has set in since he left.
“Forty Million Shoes” was produced, directed, and written by Douglas Leiterman; filmed by Grahame Woods; edited under the supervision of Don Haig. Original music adapted from Brazilian folk-songs was written by Harry Freedman.
“Intertel” — the International Television Federation — is composed of five television organizations in the four major English-speaking nations, and is pledged to produce programs to promote a wider understanding of world affairs and problems. Members are: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Associated-Rediffusion of London, England, The Australian Broadcasting Commission, and the National Educational Television and Radio Centre, and Westinghouse Broadcasting Company, in the U.S.