Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is up for re-election on October 2. He’s a fanatical far-right politician that seemingly no one took seriously until they had no choice. Sound familiar?
Often known as the "Brazilian Donald Trump," Bolsonaro has sent shockwaves of racist and anti-LGBTQ+ fervor throughout Brazil – building an extremist fan base off of fake news and hateful rhetoric. Since his election in 2018, his policies have not only harmed people of color, indigenous people, women, and LGBTQ+ folks, it’s resulted in the continuous deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
So where does it end?
That’s where filmmaker Fernando Grostein Andrade comes in.
Best known for his acclaimed work on Breaking the Taboo, which centers on the war on drugs, Andrade is once again making the political personal with his new documentary Breaking Myths.
Released worldwide on September 16, just weeks before Brazil’s presidential election, the film exposes the harsh realities of Bolsonaro’s detrimental behaviors and policies, highlighting what the politician’s second win could mean for the country of Brazil– and perhaps even the world.
“That’s the point of why we’re also making this film in English,” Andrade tells The Advocate. “I think it’s important for America and all over the world to know what’s going on in Brazil, to know what’s going on in the Amazon, and also to look at this as some sort of mirror.”
A mirror it is. In the Trump era, the number of white nationalist groups skyrocketed. Hate crimes were at an all-time high. Women were on the path to realizing that their constitutional rights would soon be taken from them.
While retracting the freedoms of minorities – which ironically, together, make up a majority – Trump granted a different type of freedom to the right wing: Freedom to do, say, and act as he would, striking conspicuous similarities to the political climate in Brazil.
“People look to the president and see that it's ok to lose the basic civil principles of respecting other people, creating a feeling that people should not respect what’s different anymore,” Andrade says, later mentioning that it allows them to “behave like wild animals.”
Told through the lens of the filmmaker himself, Breaking Myths draws parallels between the lives of Bolsonaro and Andrade. It extracts and magnifies pieces of the artist’s upbringing as a young gay man in an ultra-machismo setting, a setting that’s grown increasingly more toxic with the help of the president.
“Everybody is kind of aware of the term ‘toxic masculinity,’” Andrade says. “We’re proposing a concept we are calling ‘catastrophic masculinity,’ which is when a man can harm not only an individual or a family, but a whole country or a whole continent or even the planet.”
This “catastrophic masculinity” preys off of ‘otherness’ and is often presented to the public as “human decency” and the protection of “family values.” But in reality, catastrophic masculinity seeks to deny the existence of people who don’t fit the straight, cis, white male mold.
In 2017, following worldwide recognition for Breaking the Taboo, Andrade came out as gay in a YouTube video, hoping to use the privilege he had as “a white middle-class man to produce social change,” he explains.
But in the months to follow, Andrade received countless death threats from Bolsonaro’s followers, leading him to leave his home country and seek refuge in California.
Not everyone has this option.
That’s exactly what makes Breaking Myths so pivotal in the weeks leading up to the election.
As Andrade says, it’s all “for the benefit of telling the truth.”
To watch the full documentary, head to breakingmyths.com.