Private Project

SWITCHBLADE - A Brazilian Battalion in the Gothic Line

How strong and enduring can the impact war causes on a human being be? How does it influence family and friendship ties? How does it affect the body, mind and spirit of veterans? These are some of the questions approached in this documentary, whose background is the trajectory of the men from the III Batalhão do 6º Regimento de Infantaria [3rd Battalion of the 6th Infantry Regiment] — “Navalha” [“Switchblade"] —, of the Força Expedicionária Brasileira (FEB) [Brazilian Expeditionary Force], as well as the battles they fought in the Gothic Line, raised by the Axis armies in Italy, during World War II.

  • Durval Lourenço Pereira
    O "Lapa Azul"
  • Durval Lourenço Pereira
    O "Lapa Azul"
  • Durval Lourenço Pereira
    O "Lapa Azul"
  • Fernando Barreto
    O "Lapa Azul"
  • Nilo Barreto
    O "Lapa Azul"
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    NAVALHA - Um Batalhão Brasileiro na Linha Gótica
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    56 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    May 30, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    30,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Durval Lourenço Pereira

Durval Lourenço Pereira is an audiovisual producer. He graduated in Film, Television and Media Studies, produced and directed the documentary, O “Lapa Azul” – Os homens do III Batalhão do 11º RI na II Guerra Mundial (2007) [The “Blue Lapa” - The men from the 3rd Battalion of the 11th Infantry Regiment in World War II], shown on several national and foreign TV channels, highlighting A&E/History Channel, RT- Russian Television and Netflix, among others. He is a photographer specialized in Fine Art Photography, and had his photos exhibited at the photography show, Making Art in Italy, in São Paulo (2011).

Lieutenant Colonel of the Brazilian Army (Ret.), he was the military adviser in Brazil's Institutional Security Cabinet and has a Master's degree in Military Operations from the Escola de Aperfeiçoamento de Oficiais (1998) [Officer Training School]. He is a member of the Academia Campineira de Letras, Ciências e Artes das Forças Armadas [Campinas Academy of Sciences, Arts and Literature of the Armed Forces], and the author of the book, Operação Brasil – O ataque alemão que mudou o curso da II Guerra Mundial (2015) [Operation Brazil - The German attack that changed the course of World War II].

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Many people are surprised when they find out that Brazil sent an Expeditionary Force to fight in Europe during World War II — including in Brazil. This was one of the reasons for producing and directing this documentary. But it is not the main one.
Brazilian participation in the conflict was modest if compared to that of the major powers; however, the hardships the soldiers faced were similar to that of the other combatants on the Western front. And not infrequently they were worse. Coming from a militarily behind and weak country, the men from “Switchblade” were viewed with suspicion by their allies, and were seen as members of a second-class troop.
Their own compatriots expressed such suspicion. At the time, many used to mockingly say that "it would be easier for a snake to smoke than to have Brazil embarking for war." According to some statements, the adoption of a badge depicting a snake smoking would have been an answer to the critics.
However, as a result of the lack of troops in Italy in 1944, after being poorly trained, they were quickly thrown to the front against an experienced enemy. Even worse, they were given rifles that were so outdated that not even the racially segregated North American Divisions would use them as individual standard weaponry. That is why “Switchblade” is also a story of overcoming.
If the Brazilian presence in the conflict is poorly known, much less are the obstacles the battalion members faced during the campaign and after it. So, I emphasized the level of intensity and permanence of the effects of war on the bodies, the minds and the souls of the combatants, as well as its influence on their family and friendship ties: the raw material of the invisible link that binds the veterans together.
Despite producing and directing the work, I'm always moved by the power of their statements, telling the different dramas that afflict human beings in war. This is the greatest reason for taking this project forward.
“Switchblade” approaches timeless issues that overcome cultural barriers among peoples. I have the conviction that they are common to all those who have been in a combat zone, regardless of the country they came from. My true desire is to be able to share these stories and reflections with the public, and that this work is able to move and inspire those who watch it as much as it moves and inspires me.