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Brazilian documentary filmmakers come to Wood Buffalo for two nights of jazz

Will Collins
BY Will Collins
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On June 1 and 2, local Fort McMurray and Brazilian musicians are teaming up to perform two nights of Brazilian jazz for a fundraiser to film a documentary about a different way of making music.

Minha Terra (‘my land’ in Portuguese), is a documentary about how Brazilian composer Denis Nassar finds a fresh way to make music by using his native language as the foundation. The musical composition — an 18-minute symphony played by a 80-piece orchestra — is also titled Minha Terra. The melodies, harmonies and rhythms are taken from the dialects spoken around the country.

The filmmakers are currently raising funds to film the documentary — some of which will be filmed in Fort McMurray. All proceeds from the concerts will go towards the project. The band performs on Friday, June 1 at the Fort City Church, and at the Casman Centre Amphitheatre on Saturday, June 2. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The filmmakers will also be screening teasers from the film and talking about the process that inspired the project.

Led by Nassar on piano, the band includes musicians from Fort McMurray and visiting musicians from Calgary, all of whom are Brazilian. On top of a horn section, vocals, piano, bass and drums — a typical jazz combo — the show also includes traditional instruments and authentic sounds and styles from across Brazil.

Born in São Paulo, Denis Nassar first came Fort McMurray in 2006 to visit his family. Eventually he immigrated to Fort McMurray in 2010, and stayed for nearly five years before moving to Calgary with his family to complete his Masters degree in Music Composition in 2107. The family still resides in Calgary where Nassar composes professionally and teaches piano, theory and harmony.

Marcelo Vilhena and Claudia Antunes, both born in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais are the lens of Minha Terra. In 1997 they co-founded Target Multimedia, a production house based in São Paulo. After nearly twenty years in the film and multimedia industry, they moved from Brazil to Alberta in 2014 and 2016 respectively to start a new life with their daughter. Their latest creation is My Lands Productions, and Minha Terra is their first Canadian documentary.

Will Collins, a percussionist at heart, has been in Fort McMurray for nearly 12 years, and originally came to the region to study Musical Instrument Repair at Keyano College — the only program in the country at the time. He met Nassar in Fort McMurray and the two have performed Brazilian music together off and on for nearly a decade. Will works as a professional communicator and was asked to join the project because of his love of Brazilian music, his gift of gab, and his experience as a writer.

The documentary targets not only musicians and composers, Minha Terra is also a story for music fans, language lovers, and those who appreciate culture from around the world.


Go to the concerts to find out more. Get tickets online at