How often does someone who has visited the developing world make the remark: “the people are so poor, but they’re so happy!” Of course this feels like a naive observation to me and I hope nobody would walk about of my film saying something similar. In the case of the specific impoverished families I befriended in Brazil, I actually wouldn’t make the claim that most of them are happy but I would describe them as often very extroverted, expressive and gregarious which at first glance could read the same as “happy.”
Bay Of All Saints is comprised mainly of observational footage and through it I allow the people to be people. Sometimes they are burdened by their cynicism and anger, other times they are hopeful; sometimes they are valiant, other times they fumble and are lost. People should never be conveyed as just “one note.” This doesn’t help the poor, nor does it help us to understand the poor. I think it’s important not to romanticize the poor, but it is important that the viewers identify with them.