When the pepper blossoms - a story about the Swedish emigration to Brazil.
By Anna Wessman and Nilsmagnus Sköld, 2011.
They are standing there, a small family, about to leave. One child whines. They look right into the camera. They have decided to leave the country and the district where they can not manage financially despite the work and toil in the mine. It's the same for everyone. There are several people here who will leave to go to a country far away, where it's easy to find work, where they do not have to watch every penny and freeze, where the children have a future.
In When the pepper blossoms, Anna Wessman and Nilsmagnus Sköld tell a story about a largely forgotten part of Swedish history: the 1909 to 1911 ́s Swedish emigration to Brazil. During two months in the autumn 2010, they traveled with their children in the footsteps of the migrants. In the film we meet descendants of the Swedish working class families that, with the promise of a good life on the other side of earth, left Kiruna and Luleå, and other locations, and emigrated via Hamburg to Ilha das Flores -Isle of Flowers - and further down south to Porto Alegre in Rio Grande do Sul. In letters that were sent home, the emigrants wrote about all the beauty they met, and that this new home probably had to be paradise compared to the cold and the hunger they had left. But then it turned. Some had died already during the crossing and were buried at sea. They succumbed not only to tropical fevers with stomach problems, but also floods, unusable land, hunger and poverty claimed more lives later on.
This came to be called the “caravan of death”, “la caravana de la muerte”. In addition to this, they got very little to no profit of the agricultural products they managed to produce, and gradually people moved across the border to Argentina. The green paradise had turned into a green hell. When the pepper blossoms is a film about history, memory and forgetfulness. A century ago, people fled the recession and aftermath of The Swedish General Strike. Some of them traveled to Brazil. When the pepper blossoms is a reminder of this forgotten stage of history. It also highlights the striking similarities between the migrants of the past and of today and their quest for freedom, land and bread.
When the pepper blossoms urges us to realize that everything is connected.
a text by Isabell Dahlberg
(Transcribed from swedish to english by the filmmakers)