Let It Burn


Director: Maíra Bühler

Words – Christian Abbott

“Everything around me is saved, but few can save me.”
This is a line that comes from one of the residents of an apartment building in Downtown São Paulo, a building that is inhabited by people with a shared addiction – Crack Cocaine. The residents of this self-contained community live lives of struggle, of pain and of love.

The subject of addiction is an often covered topic in the media. It is how we deal with this issue that is often the question. Yet, here that isn’t the question. If there is one, it is why do we cast aside these people and look at them as anything less than human?
All too often, we turn a blind eye to these issues, rather to sweep them under the rug than to face them head-on. The reason is simple, it is too painful. The answers do not simply come from tighter laws or more enforcement; the answers come from deep within the human condition and the heightened awareness of our own problems.

Let it Burn goes beyond the mainstream journalistic approach to the subject. This isn’t a series of statistics and anecdotal interviews. Director Maíra Bühler intimately explores the lives of these residents over the course of five months. She gets to know them, understand them and even become a part of their accepted world. This claustrophobic apartment building they all share can at times feel like a loving home or a self-imposed prison.

Yet, Bühler’s camera never feels intrusive, it doesn’t judge, make assertions or condone. It simply humanises people that desperately need it. There is a tragic feeling from this unique perspective. An often wrongly or misguidedly vilified group is made human once more and it is all the more painful to watch because of it.

There is often a question on what Documentary truly is, what it should be – is it to state facts or to tell a story?
This represents the very best of the craft, it lives in its subject, breaths it and shows us a side of a well-known story we rarely see.



Details of Let It Burn at Sheffield Doc/Fest can be found here: