‘It wasn’t my fault’: Carnival and violence against women are democratic

‘It wasn’t my fault’: Carnival and violence against women are democratic

In Brazil, a woman is killed every seven hours, making the plight of women in the country alarming. With the aim of exposing this terrifying reality, Star+ launched the Brazilian version of Não Foi Minha Culpa, an anthology series focused on denouncing various forms of violence against women, which appeared on the platform this August when Maria Law da Penha turns 16 years old.

Across ten episodes, the production follows different cases that share common ground, including the abuse of women and a Mardi Gras party where all characters appeared in their stories at some point. Screenwriter Juliana Rosenthal explained that syringes that this similarity between the protagonists also exists in productions from other countries.

“There was a pro who brought the characters together, whether it was a lawyer handling the ten cases or an investigator in charge. In the case of Brazil, they wanted something original and it had something to do with culture. I proposed carnival, which is something so democratic about violence against women: everyone participates, one way or another.”

Rosenthal, who is cosigning the script with Michelle Ferreira, explains that the series deliberately makes viewers uncomfortable precisely because it addresses facts that several women have experienced or know someone who has been through similar dramas. Her goal is to show the evolution of abuse and harassment, which can begin in subtle ways and end in feminicide.

It Wasn't My Fault is a series that also exists in Mexico and Colombia  Disclosure/ Star+  Disclosure/ Star+

It Was Not My Fault is a series that also exists in Mexico and Colombia

Image: Disclosure / Star+

“When we see news about violence against women every day, all we know is death. We know what’s happening, but we don’t see how it happened. This was our opportunity to show how this violence is achieved. Extreme.”

We need to know the process in order to recognize, alert and promote a transformation.
Juliana Rosenthal

humanization of production

It is not an easy task to address such serious and sensitive issues, especially when dealing with a type of violence that lives so close to us. “Since the beginning of the research, we have been swept away by many emotions and rebellion. It was very powerful, painful as well as transformative and intense,” the screenwriter recalls.

Director Suzanna Lira says the first reading of the script was not easy and there were concerns from the start about how the crimes would be portrayed. “While we were trying to understand the process of violence, I was afraid to reproduce any character that looked like one of those afternoon shows that show violence.”

We wanted to humanize the history of women. Who is this woman? What do we lose if a woman like that dies? What do children lose? What is society losing? You can’t just make it a number anymore.
Susan Lira

Even with the duration between 30 and 50 minutes, Lira compares the production of each episode with that of feature films. “Each woman was a different universe, an aesthetic challenge, a very complex narrative and also a very complex ethical challenge, how to show this without trivializing and naturalizing things that we women in this place no longer want.”

To make “Não Foi Minha Fault” more humane, the production consisted mostly of women. That way, during filming, the team members felt how these issues were affecting them. “Several scenes had to stop to attend to the people around them,” says Lira.

real characters

Each of the episodes is based on true stories drawn from reports and trials that actually happened. Over the ten episodes, we follow an aspiring actress struggling at the hands of an abusive and jealous husband, to a businesswoman fighting for justice after her daughter is found dead in a suitcase.

In the tenth episode entitled “Carol and Priscila” we are introduced to Carol and Fernando. They dated for a few months until he attacked her at the carnival. Carol sublimates what happened until she finds out he has a new girlfriend, Priscila, who will be living with him with the coronavirus pandemic.

Bianca Comparato plays Carol in It's Not My Fault, where she works with her sister Lorena  Disclosure/ Star+  Disclosure/ Star+

Bianca Comparato plays Carol in It’s Not My Fault, where she appears alongside her sister Lorena

Image: Disclosure / Star+

Carol and Priscila are played by sisters Bianca and Lorena Comparato. They’re not related on the show, but in an interview with Splash, Bianca explains that the physical resemblance helps to understand Fernando. “This shows a pattern in which he looks for similar women. If he perpetuates this cycle, he must also perpetuate the cycle of violence.”

Played by Armando Babaioff, villain Fernando is a good guy who is loved by everyone but turns into an abusive and violent man within four walls. “When I choose to work, I choose to be a vehicle to communicate the story. And that’s what I said the whole time: ‘Use me’.”

The way to denounce this kind of violence is the way this guy behaves in this relationship.
Armando Babaioff

Fernando’s abuse of Priscila begins in a veiled way, in the nuances of the relationship. With time and living together everything starts to escalate. “It starts with violence that doesn’t seem so serious,” explains Lorena syringes. “But she’s serious. This episode is very powerful precisely because it shows that idea.”

The whole series is a cry for help that is needed.
Lorena Comparato