There’s No Sin To The South of Ecuador arguably has two leading roles: one is a man in a wedding dress; the other is the Virgin Mary. Both are visions in white but the imagery could not be more different. The combination of the still, sepulchral statue of the Virgin Mary and the fluid, very much alive image of the man, gives two contrasting images of sin, sex and purity.
Igor Furtado’s film successfully explores these themes through a sequence of delicately juxtaposed images of the festivities of Círio de Nazaré, a procession of millions of pilgrims in Brazil, and a sexual encounter on a beach. The parallels and differences between these different scenes work well to create a dialogue about sexuality and religion.
For example, Furtado pulls off two very different filming techniques, and in doing so creates two very different atmospheres. The opening images of a man posing by a pond are overtly stylised and still. In opposition, the scenes of the procession are filmed in a shaky documentary style, capturing the noise and the chaos of the enormous event.
The pond is replaced with the sea, which is the site of the mens’ baptismal sexual encounter; it is also calm and peaceful, a surface unmarred by breaking waves. In comparison with the heaving crowds of the religious procession, the scenes of the men are havens of serenity. One can almost feel the aching feet of the marchers and, in contrast, the sweet coolness of water on naked skin.
By forming these two very different atmospheres, this short seems to suggest an alternative vision of purity. In place of the Virgin Mary’s famous sexlessness, sexuality and even homosexuality are not demonised as weaknesses of the impure, but instead gain their own sense of spirituality. In the context of homophobic, biblical damnation that is still cited by some today, it is relevant that the lovers are both men because it rejects the notion that homosexuality is a terrible, unnatural sin. Instead, it reworks images of innocence to convey a very different view of sex and virtue.
There’s No Sin To The South of Ecuador is a quiet, meditative film that still commands the viewers’ attention. It wields good camera work, costume design and effective use of setting to make some important points and question the place of religion in LGBTQ identities.
'There’s No Sin To The South of Ecuador' was a film in consideration for Short Focus 2019.