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Volunteer ****1864: A documentary film by Sandra Kogut

Sandra Kogut, Brazilian filmmaker and Fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute

November 12, 2021 · 4:30 pm6:30 pm · 010 East Pyne

Brazil LAB

Film screening followed by discussion with the director. Discussants: João Biehl, Guilherme Fagundes & Maria Luísa Lucas (Anthropology and Brazil LAB).

Synopsis: Brazil has the world’s second highest death toll due to COVID-19. The government’s necropolitics can be captured in two little words uttered by President Jair Bolsonaro at the height of the pandemic: “So what?”

As the tragedy unfolded, many Brazilians discovered that to follow science was considered subversive and they felt like prisoners of a country they no longer recognized. In August 2020, a glimmer of hope emerged on the horizon: the much-needed vaccines. That same month, Phase 3 studies were announced in Brazil. Who volunteered for these trials? What motivated people to do this? How did their lives alter?

Spread through out the far-flung corners of the country, this diverse and courageous group of vaccine trial volunteers had one thing in common: they believed in a future. As an artist eager to understand this experimental reality but unable to meet the trial subjects in person, Sandra Kogut decided to turn them into filmmakers. Just as people were going to produce a clinical diary for the study, Kogut asked each one of the volunteers to also make personal video diaries using their phones. During nine months these subjects welcomed the filming crew into their homes and lives… making an intimate and timely film from a distance possible.

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