A missing ingredient
“This documentary is for society,” said one of its four young favela-bred directors, Cadu Barcellos. “To discuss what people want.”
The 96-minute film premieres in Brazil November 16, but RioRealblog got a pre-screening seat thanks to the NGO Afroreggae (which figures prominently in it), at their Cantagalo favela branch.
It’s already been shown around town (and at the MoMA in New York!), but not much has been said about it critically, aside from a comment the other night at a panel held by the American Society. “It’s a powerful movie,” said Rodrigo Fonseca, one of O Globo newspaper’s top film critics.
At the same panel, veteran filmmaker Cacá Diegues (He did Bye Bye Brazil, among many other films), explained that in his youth he and four other directors, including Joaquim Pedro de Andrade and Leon Hirzman, made a documentary, 5 x Favela. Two years ago, under Diegues’ guidance, five young directors who grew up in favelas premiered 5 x Favela, Now by Ourselves. This is a delightful and moving series of short fiction films.
Now four of those directors have produced this documentary about pacification. The challenge was huge. “We kept saying to Cacá, ‘we have to film this, this new thing just happened,'” recalled Barcellos. “He kept reminding us we had to launch the movie, despite the fact that so much was changing all the time.”
One of the five segments, Complexo, drives this home. In it, the filmmakers show passersby footage of the November 2010 Brazilian army’s invasion of the Complexo do Alemão favelas– and ask them how it makes them feel to watch that. Only two years ago, cariocas were horrified, scandalized, and also relieved to see drug traffickers fleeing, live on television, riding motorcycles over a dirt road leading out of a favela.
Only two years ago we didn’t know if pacification would work. There were twelve police pacification units, concentrated in the South Zone and Tijuca. (Now there are 28, four of which are in the Complexo do Alemão itself)
We still don’t know if it will “work”– if by that you mean endure.
Despite the fact that the film was partly supported by Rio state government funding, it comes to no hard and fast conclusion, presenting instead a mosaic of impressions and information. This was done by way of segments about the Morro (the Hill, or the informal city, favelas), Polícia, Bandidos and Asfalto (Asphalt, or the formal city), in addition to the one about the Complexo do Alemão series of favelas.
Pacification is indeed a mosaic of successes and difficulties and doubts.
Two certainties are to be found in 5 x Pacificação, amid footage that is sometimes confusing and about twenty minutes too long: one, that the bullets have stopped and this is a good thing; and two, that pacification needs to be much more than a police presence, that social needs must also be met.
“When I visited Complexo do Alemão,” Gaúcho, a former drug trafficker present at the screening, who now works for Afroreggae, said during the post-screening question-and-answer period. “People begged me to come back. They said I helped them, I did things for them, that no one’s doing that now.”
Strangely, the film features Governor Sérgio Cabral, State Public Safety Secretary José Mariano Beltrame, and several police commanders and officers, plus Adriana Rattes, State Secretary of Culture– but no one from the municipal Social UPP program, which coordinates city agencies’ responses to pacified favela needs.
When RioRealblog asked about this, director Luciano Vidigal explained that the group didn’t set out to cover the gamut of government activity relating to pacification.
Which leaves lots of room for people to discuss the issue of meeting social needs. Or will this end up being the reason/excuse that pacification didn’t last?
At any rate, the nighttime walk home down through the alleyways of the Pavão-Pavãozinho favela, on the way to the elevator atop Ipanema’s General Osório metro station exit on Rua Barão da Torre, was heartening. A hospitable resident offered to show the way over a clean, well-lit route bordering a hillside that has long been covered in trash.
It was clean.