Soldiers on the Way to the Whorehouse – Memories of an Almost Imaginary War


“Soldiers on the Way to the Whorehouse – Memories of an Almost Imaginary War” is a documentary that denounces a hidden part of the history of Brazil that still needs to be clarified.

The film narrates the Araguaia Guerrilla through a different focus through the personal story of Hermes Leal, who returns to the hometown where he lived at the age of 12, when his street was taken by the military, and reenacts the war through the imagination of its residents.

The street where Leal lived in childhood was the link between the airport and a whorehouse at the bank of the Tocantins River, in the city of Carolina, in southern Maranhão, in the region of Bico do Papagaio, where a bloody war took place.

Hermes Leal talks to people, looking for the memories of the dwellers, the memories of the time, and how the war affected them. Many did not know what was going on, while others were part of the war theater.

While residents report an imaginary war, guerrillas and specialists report the actual war. It was the largest mobilization of military troops in the country since World War II.

The guerrillas were marked by one of the largest massacres in the country’s history, in which 69 guerrillas faced 15,000 armed men, being wiped out. Some were decapitated, and their bodies have not been found to this day.

It is narrated by a fisherman turned poet and by José Genoino, a former guerrilla member, and shows how the myth of the guerrillas spread, with Osvaldão as their boss, as well as the fascinating story about Che Guevara’s legendary visit to the region.

“Soldiers on the Way to the Whorehouse – Memories of an Almost Imaginary War” brings back the memory of one of the bloodiest and most inhumane wars of the recent history of Brazil.

The Araguaia Guerrilla, the armed movement that took place between 1972 and 1974, resulted in a war that had no news coverage, nor any kind of audiovisual record. The censorship and the iron hand of the dictatorship hid the carnage that took place in the region of Bico do Papagaio.

About 15,000 soldiers were involved in the conflict to confront 70 ill-armed guerrillas, who were all but massacred, with some who ended up decapitated while their bodies disappeared. A massacre like that of Canudos, where the guerrillas were referred to as fanatics who had to be eliminated.

The film tells the story, through the memory of the people living on the same street, as well as former guerrillas, of one of the largest guerrilla wars in the country.




  • 21st Cine Ceará – Ibero-American Film Festival (2011)
  • 15th FAM – Florianópolis Audiovisual Mercosur (2011)
  • 10th Chico – Palmas Film Festival (2011)
  • 38th São Paulo International Film Exhibition (2011)


  • CINEBRASiLTV pay-TV channel (2016)