In the Air

 

Amazonia, that’s rivers, clouds that tower up to heaven, wind, fat raindrops, heavy rainfall, beauty, and places where no one has ever set foot before, fortunately.

Brazilian pilots Fernando and Nilton, who live in the jungle metropolis of Manaus, are accustomed to taking off from land and water and under conditions that only the best are able to deal with, where death is never far away.

On the Day of the Republic a pilot circled overhead. Him up there and me down here. I’m tired of being on the ground, I want to be in the air.

Nilton left a seminary and became a pilot. A brooding family man, he flies a Cessna Caravan through the lonely stretches of the immense interior. Transporting whores and plaster angels, mail-order packages and Indios, dead bodies and vegetables. He started as Captain Juarez’s copilot, flying baby chickens across Amazonia. Now Juarez is in a prison psychiatric ward, painting the skies and all the things that move through them, and he enjoys Nilton’s visits.

I’m attracted to the water, my plane has to be in the water. Maybe I’m a son of Yemanjá, the mother of all waters, Flying is what I need.

Fernando, the nomad and water bug, is flying a Lake Renegade with his boss, who owns the floating gas stations on the Rio Negro.

His idols are Mary Poppins, who can fly and do magic, and his Uncle Valdivino, a legendary coke smuggler whose period of glory and downfall he experienced, and who has a special place in his heart.

Flying is a lonely job. You’re up there for hours, in the rush of your feelings, alone, between an utter sense of security and holes as black as night. And then you see the sun rising or disappearing on the horizon.

The film accompanies Nilton and Fernando on their flights in the cosmos of Amazonia. In voice-overs they describe their lives as flyers in flashbacks, dreams for the future, and reflections.

I am still flying for the sake of pleasure,a feeling of joy in an open space, one which can’t be controlled or owned.

A dream and a trauma. Years ago, Nilton and Fernando were victims of a dramatic kidnapping attempt. The kidnappers also tried to steal their plane and Fernando shot and killed one of them. Near the film’s end they meet and are confronted with this event, which continues to haunt them both. The dream of flight was violated by violence.

When it was over, Fernando cried. If it weren’t for Fernando I wouldn’t have survived the kidnapping. He grew up with nothing but the heart of a lion and an iron will to get through life. Our lives are similar.

The next morning the shadows of the past are gone. Fernando plans a new adventure, and Nilton thinks about his beloved. Then the flyers wing through the blue sky side by side before curving out of sight in opposite directions.

Flying means looking into the skies, the ground and the horizon line in between, which clearly separates light and dark and gives you a reference.

 

Herbert Brödl develops his stories on a realistic basis created through research, then easily combines documentary, semi-documentary and fictional elements, the found and the invented, authentic figures and actors, reality and fantasy, thoughts, voices and images. This unique combination gives his films their special character, and is what makes them fascinating.
'Flyers' is the sixth film in Brödl’s Equator cycle, its conclusion after 'Eclipse' (2002), 'Bad Boy' (2000), 'Little Fruit' (1998), 'Goldland' (1996) and 'Jaguar and Rain' (1994). These films are set at the center of the world, scenes and stories from the Tropics.

 
'I accompany, observe and make films about individuals undertaking journeys and trips of exploration, wanderers between the worlds who find their inner selves in a foreign place.'
Herbert Brödl