Life is Unpredictable

By Lois Siegel

Photo by Paul Jean

Lois Siegel

Plays fiddle and she teaches Video Production at
the University of Ottawa
Her documentary films include “Baseball Girls”
 (women who play softball and baseball)
 “Lip Gloss” (female impersonators)
 “Strangers in Town” (albinism)
 and “Stunt People”
 (The Fournier Family performing stunts for films).


One of the films presented was “Not by Chance” (Não Por Acaso), directed by Philippe Barcinski, a Brazilian film released in 2007.  The story follows a sequence of occurrences in the lives of two men in São Paulo, one of the largest cities in the world: Pedro (Rodrigo Santoro), who loves to play snooker and works as a carpenter making pool tables and Enio (Leonardo Medeiros), who is a city traffic engineer.

Traffic Controller Enio (Leonardo Medeiros)

Life is unpredictable.  In the film each of these men loses a woman he loves in separate accidents. Their lives suddenly change, and they slowly realize that because they have been obsessed with, in one case the intricacies of playing a game, or in the other, regulating the complex set up of city streets, they cannot fully enjoy life because real life cannot be controlled.

Teresa (Branca Messina)

The film has a 60’s feel to it in the sense that the story unravels slowly and thoughtfully.  Pedro analyzes his snooker plays before he practices his shots.  Like Enio who controls the city’s roads, he controls the movement of one ball so that it will hit in just the right spot to sink a shot, but at the same time set up the other balls perfectly for his next shot. He is precise and determined

Pedro (Rodrigo Santoro)

Enio controls the flux of cars.  He watches for trouble spots and reroutes the cars if problems occur, such as an accident or stalled car.  Ironically, it is a traffic accident that disrupts the life of each of these men. The accident becomes the symbol of an imperfection - something that these men could not control. 

The Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges in his short story “The Garden of Forking Paths,” indicates “Time forks perpetually toward innumerable futures. In one of them I am your enemy…. The future already exists.”

These men have lived their lives as prisoners of their occupations. 

Borges also writes in “Funes the Memorious” of Ireneo, who has always “looked without seeing, listened without hearing….”  It takes a fall from a half-tamed horse that paralyzes him to initiate change as it suddenly thrusts him into an almost intolerable richness and sharpness of life. The problem is that he remembers too much, too many details. He can’t think because “To think is to forget differences, generalize, and make abstractions. In the teeming world of Funes, there were only details, almost immediate in their presence…. a useless mental catalogue of all the images in his memory.”

The film is also a story about love - loves lost and loves found, whether it be with a new woman or a suddenly discovered daughter. It’s the relationships we have with others that really matter.

Bia (Rita Batata) and Enio

Shooting a film in a big city has its problems. “We took over four thousand pictures of different locations,” the director Barcinski explains. “The city had to give the feeling of possibilities of encounter and isolation.” If you live in a big city, you will have experienced this.

Barcinski is known for his short films; he’s won over 40 awards. “Not by Chance” is his first feature. He spent five years developing the screenplay.

Time well spent.  The film is complex, sensitive and impressive

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