Official Selection:


Quilombo Country,” a documentary film shot in digital video, provides a portrait of rural communities in Brazil that were either founded by runaway slaves or begun from abandoned plantations. This type of community is known as a quilombo, from an Angolan word that means "encampment." As many as 2,000 quilombos exist today.

Contrary to Brazil's national mythology, Brazil was a brutal and deadly place for slaves. But they didn't submit willingly. Thousands escaped, while others led political and militant movements that forced white farmers to leave. Largely unknown to the outside world, today these communities struggle to preserve a rich heritage born of resistance to oppression.

The film ranges from the Northeastern sugar-growing regions to the heart of the Amazon rainforest, raising issues of political identity, land rights, and racial and socioeconomic discrimination. Included are examples of the material culture that allow the quilombolas to survive in relative isolation, including hunting, fishing, construction and agriculture; as well as rare footage of syncretic Umbanda and Pajelança ceremonies; Tambor de Crioula, Carimbó and Boi Bumba drum and dance celebrations; and Festivals of the Mast.

“Quilombo Country” is narrated by Chuck D, the legendary poet, media commentator and leader of the iconic hip hop band Public Enemy.

“Quilombo Country” was shot in digital video and has a runtime of 73 minutes. Leonard Abrams is the producer and director. For more information call 212-260-7540 or email info[at]

Clips and Excerpts    


slave revolt
Historical Context
--download video 490 KB

We have the people who were fugitives. On the other hand, we have communities that started due to the fall of the economy. The great rebellions, the slave revolts and the economic crash caused the abandonment of the large sugar plantations.

bulldozer Land Rights
--download video 3Mb

We can't leave, because if we leave we could lose our land. So we have to stay in our place. If we leave to work, we lose the land. Because farmers from outside will come in and take the land.

Material Culture

making babassu milk Using the Babassu Nut
 --download video 2.3Mb

The [babassu] coco is good for everything. First off we sell it and we can buy the things we need. We use it to make oil; we also use it for cooking. And from the shell we make chocolate. When it’s dry a dust comes out and from the powder we make chocolate. We also burn the shell to make charcoal. It’s very good for cooking.
making manioc flour Making Manioc Flour    
--download video 1.1Mb

I’m grating the tubers to make the flour. It’s grated into a paste. We’re going to squeeze it in the tapiti [wringer]....After it’s dry, we put the wood under the oven [pan] and then it gets toasted on the fire.

Festivals and

Festa da Sta. Filomena Macumba -- Girl in trance Bumba Meu Boi
Santa Filomena

We are beating the drums, singing and praising the divine holy spirit: "Praise the Lord, praise Filomena!"
All the women, the children, everybody is in that big line.

The people feel the problem and they come to us for the service. We call on the saints, the gods, to help the orishas and so the person will feel better.  
Bumba Meu Boi

You have to have respect for the bull. If we don't follow up with the commitments we have, he comes and then he takes our sleep away and we have nightmares.


dancer at the door
Tambor de Crioula
Festa da Santa Maria
Post-Carimbo Jam
A Report on Three Quilombos in Itapicuru-Mirim  
This film project was preceded by an ethnographic study of three communities in Maranhao.  Here is the text of the Maranhao study.

--download quilombo report