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Every Day the Same Night brings necessary visuality to the Kiss tragedy

Imagem de: Todo Dia a Mesma Noite traz visualidade necessária à tragédia da Kiss

Narratives based on real cases are, in a way, a kind of dead end. On the one hand, they usually seem more attractive to the viewer: we tend to be more interested in a story when we know that it corresponds to something that actually happened in the world.

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But, on the other hand, this commitment to reality leaves room for certain demands. How true is what is being shown on the screen? Since it is (obviously) impossible to reconstruct reality, how close can you get to a fact using typical fiction resources?

Every Day the Same Night, a five-episode miniseries on Netflix, brings an extra factor. Directed by Júlia Rezende, it seeks to portray one of the most horrible recent events in the history of Brazil: the arson attack that took place at the Kiss nightclub on January 27, 2013 in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, which killed 242 people, in addition to to victimize hundreds of others. Most of the deceased were university students (Santa Maria, it is worth remembering, is a city that revolves around UFSM and other educational institutions).

This is a horrible story, which was told with care in the book report Every Day at the Same Night, by journalist Daniela Arbex. It is this work that is the basis of the Netflix series, with the challenge of bringing a visual account to a devastating story that, even ten years later, remains urgent, since it is surrounded by impunity and the bureaucracies of Brazilian legislation.

a history of mistakes

(Source: Netflix)Source: Netflix

The series Todo Dia a Mesma Noite follows the Kiss tragedy from four main angles, involving four families: Suzana (Debora Lamm) and Pedro (Thelmo Fernandes), who lose their daughter Marienne; Ricardo (Paulo Gorgulho) and Lívia (Raquel Karro), who lost their son Marco; Geraldo (Leonardo Medeiros) and Telma (Bel Kowarick), who lose Guilherme; and Ana (Bianca Byington), who lost her youngest Felipinho.

The choice to centralize the plot in a few cases is right, as it gives the chance that all families, in some way, are represented, and that their stories take up more screen time. These parents are also approached for having taken the lead in the search for justice in the face of what had happened.

Undoubtedly, the most impactful episodes of Every Day, Same Night are the first two, which give us a visual look at the horrific event: the fire at Kiss and the parents’ desperate search for their children, culminating in a devastating scene (even more so for being real) of families having to recognize the bodies stretched out in the main sports gym in the city. It’s impossible not to be moved.

We are facing, as the book and the series make clear, a succession of errors: that of the band Guapos Baladeiros (fictionalized version of the real group, Gurizada Fandangueira), who used a pyrotechnic device that could not be used indoors, but which it was cheaper; of the nightclub owners, who operated without a permit; and, of course, the entire bureaucratic chain of Santa Maria City Hall, which did not work as it should and allowed all of this to happen.

After losing their children, parents go through the pilgrimage of seeking some possible justice in the face of something that tries to be framed as a fatality, an accident. It turns out that, even though everyone involved was victimized (including those responsible for the criminal act, who will certainly carry this tragedy with them for the rest of their lives), there are errors that need to be pointed out so that facts of this type do not happen again.

This is a vast story that is still unfolding in the present time. I think, then, that the series is right to make a cut: it finally focuses on the process that the parents took for having posted posters in which they criticized the inefficiency of public agencies in approaching the case. A mother was also sued for an article published in a city newspaper.

That is, some parents who presided over the association of victims of the Kiss tragedy became defendants of a process that could condemn them to prison. Therefore, more layers of absurdity were added on top of an absurd tragedy. The lawsuits against them were dismissed in 2018.

Dramatization of a terrible event

(Source: Netflix)(Source: Netflix)Source: Netflix

I started this text by writing about the difficulty of dramatizing real events. I think that, in the case of a tragedy of this magnitude, there is an additional difficulty, which is the challenge of dealing with certain layers of fiction that need to be put on when reconstituting a devastating event.

Every Day the Same Night is a dramatization. It is possible to say that, no matter how sad the series is, it does not even come close to what happened, which borders on the unspeakable. Therefore, the entire production (which here involves the performance of the actors, the script, the scenographic resources) has the immense challenge of doing justice to the fact without seeming to force sensationalism around something that is already devastating in itself.

The series hits key moments that, like in the book by Daniela Arbex, have the ability to surgically translate what these parents and family members went through. Among these scenes are the parents’ search for a car in a garage, in a growing tension (if the car was there, it would mean that the son was in the club); the bodies lined up with cell phones ringing incessantly (these were desperate parents calling their children); or the photo essay with the survivors.

These are all moments in which Netflix’s production shines, in the sense of being able to expose, in an audiovisual way, the glory of journalism when it is well done: that of capturing the essence of the facts and making the reader/viewer feel of someone who has gone through a certain experience.

This does not mean that the dramaturgy of the series does not have some weaknesses. I highlight here the forced tone of the text at certain times, especially with regard to the accent. There is a certain exaggerated stereotyping to make it clear that the tragedy took place in Rio Grande do Sul. This is evident in some scenic resources, such as the pilched clothes and the uncomfortable feeling in the speech of most of the actors.

But that doesn’t make Every Day the Same Night any less important. His greatest contribution is to make the memory of this fact remain alive and uncomfortable, even ten years later. It’s the only resource we have so that other families don’t go through the same thing.

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