Brazil History News
FORTALEZA, Brazil – (9 March 1942) American actor, director, writer and producer Orson Welles arrived in Fortaleza to commence filming It’s All True, a documentary film about South America. At the behest of the United States Government’s Good Neighbor Policy, a wartime propaganda effort designed to prevent Latin American countries from allying with the Axis powers, Welles came to Brazil with over one million U.S. dollars in his pocket.
Brazil was particularly targeted by the U.S. Committee for Inter-American Affairs for the filmmaking effort do to a belief that the Vargas’ dictatorship in South America’s largest country was rife with Nazi sympathizers. Thus, the committee appointed Welles to head a new “cultural exchange” project to Latin America and, especially to Brazil.
Orson Welles was fresh off of his 1941 critically acclaimed film Citizen Kane, and was at the hight of his career as a director, actor and producer. RKO Studios gave Welles over one million dollars to produce a documentary film about Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro. He was also to conduct himself as a “cultural ambassador,” as part of the “good-neighbor policy” with Latin America.
RKO thought that Welles would make a banal documentary film solely about Carnaval, but of course, they sent the wrong man for the job. Welles had an awareness and fascination with Brazil on a very deep level and he was not to return with something as simple as a documentary. Neither Hollywood nor Washington DC were pleased.
Orson Welles film It’s All True was never completed and disappeared in the RKO’s Hollywood film vaults for decades before being rediscovered in the 1980s. Film archivists discovered over 300 cans of raw footage in 1985. Richard Wilson, Myron Meisel and Bill Krohn reconstructed and edited the footage.
In addition to the Rio de Janeiro Carnaval footage, the celluloid included a piece called ”Four Men on a Raft”, which followed four fishermen setting out from Fortaleza to Rio de Janeiro in search of opportunity.
Source(s) for this article: Various