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My Cinema Slums


My Cinema Slums -

it is argued that what we watch, hear or read about makes up 95% of our knowledge and only 5% is based on our own experiences; but how accurate is that 95%?

it is likely to be a place you have heard, seen or read. It could be as simple as being in the boot of your own car or in the cinema by yourself, or it could be as extreme as being at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro or the sea bed of the Atlantic Ocean. Some places are a lot more unlikely to experience than others so we are only able to experience them through the media. In this essay I am going to analysis the pre-trial of Favelas (slums) in Brazilian cinema, using screen from books and news reports. I am going to focus on the living conditions and life styles of the people and the community surrounded by sex, drugs and violence and how they could be viewed by the rest of the world. It is what I call ‘the glamour at the expense of someone else’s reality’. It is argued that thelarger audience and produce great pieces of cinema. highly realistic storylines and the cinematic back awareness than any of the news reports put together on what the situation in the Favelas is like. Rio de Janeiro, like most third world cities, is exincrease has come mostly in the form of the rural poor migrating to the cities. Because of the high land values and the enormous demand for space, these settlers are forced into squatter settlements settlements usually occur in two areas of Rio: one, along the steep hillsides or, two, along the outer

for a number of reasons. Firstly because they all focus on the major issues dealt with within Favelas. Secondly, they have collectively received 80 awards worldwide and received 46 nominations among

years since the United Nation millennium declaration was made to improve living conditions within slums across the world.

City of God (August 2002) Set in a lawless slum in Rio De Janeiro, “City of God” tells the story of Rocket, an aspiring photographer looking for his big break so he can leave the icles Rockets life as a young boy as he deals with his law bending brother and his gang, all the way to his teen years as a pseudo hippie. As the crime level soars in brutality, Rocket begins to realize his niche as a photographer is his only means of staying honest. With a psychopathic thug named “Lil Ze” looking to take over the slum, Rocket’s career will

Two childhood friends decide to enlist in Rio juggling their police jobs and college, both make up their minds to try out for a Special Operations Squad whose mission is to take down the drug-lords that plague the city slums. Both men struggle to survive, facing the daily challenges

unnamed war on the streets Preceding the visit of Pope John Paul II to Rio, the plot unfolds and we are introduced to the day-to-day drug busting operations inside Brazilian favelas, ruled by wellarmed and powerful drug lords, led by the Brazilian elite unit, BOPE, BOPE (Portuguese: Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais), the Special Police Operations Battalion of the Rio de Janeiro Bus 174 (October 2002) and Last stop 174 (October 2008) A Brazilian documentary on a real life incident that occurred in June 2000 a young man from a poor background bungled a robbery and ended up holding the passengers on a bus hostage for -

life is like in the slums and favelas of Rio de Janeiro and how the criminal justice system in properly and quotes should be in “ you may actually Brazil treats the lower classes. Last stop 174 is a feature movie based on the City of Men TV series (October 2002) and City of life of Sandro do Nascimento, 22 years old, “the Best friends Acerola and Laranjinha live in the fave- Bus 174 hijack er”, were followed by millions of people through TV worldwide. His burial was las of Rio de Janeiro, and have been raised without accompanied by only one person - his adoptive between rival drug gangs begins around them. Each discovers things about his missing father that will Movie Database) Squad 2 (October 2010)


slum, half paradise. How could a place be so ugly and violent, yet beautiful at the same time? (Chris Abani, Graceland, 2004, page 7) Understandably not every country would want to take ownership for their slums, other than the people who are forced to live in them, and in

2020. As this report emphasizes, slums are a manifestation of the two main challenges facing human settlements development at the beginning of the new millennium: rapid urbanization and the urbanization of poverty. Slum areas have the highest concentrations of poor people and the worst shelter and physical environmental conditions.

Abani’s novel Graceland, in this novel Abani writes about a young man coming of age in the slums of

made up of about 839 of these houses, even though squatter settlements have existed in Rio since the

character Young Elvis Oke is faced with the harsh, urban and violent Lagos. He moves with his father into one of Lagos’ ghettos, a slum called Maroko,

the hillside because it was unclaimed land which meant it was rent free and was relatively close to the city centre.

is steadily wasting his life at a local wine shop, and desperate Elvis needs to fend for himself if he is going to survive. Elvis is recruited to help out with the cocaine business, and he grudgingly goes along with a self proclaimed activist called Redemption, his half-baked schemes. When Redemption’s shady business dealings get even more chaotic, (Redemption and Elvis become inadvertently tangled in backs out and tries to reorganize his life. Dickinson, Graceland Hackwriter review 2004) Graceland and ture and how they could also come across as excesway does truly express the countries Identity Both ratives that are wonderful with narrative of wounds and self loading without being too political but still are always in search of itself, they are an ‘odd mix of porary themes, of political analysis and Brechtain tradition. (Ruud Visschedijk Brazil, contemporary 2009 page 169) dwellers (especially within developing countries) have been weak and incoherent over the last decade, having peaked during the 1980s. Cinema has captured this frustration and raised global awareness which is something that no single news report has being able to do. However, renewed concern about poverty has forced governments to adopt Nations Millennium Declaration, which aims to slum dwellers by the year 2020. key objectives, adopted by 189 world leaders during the summit. (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2 session 55 United Nations Millennium Declaration on 8 September 2000) 1. Values and Principles 2. Peace, Security and Disarmament 3. Development and Poverty Eradication 4. Protecting our Common Environment 5. Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance 6. Protecting the Vulnerable 7. Meeting the Special Needs of Africa 8. Strengthening the United Nations

Today there are over 500 Favela communities existing within the city of Rio and comprise about a third of the total population. Five-hundred thousand to 1 million are estimated to live on the hillsides directly surrounding the central business district (CBD). While the city of Rio is growing at 2.7% a year, the Favelas are growing at a rate of zation has extended Rios utilities and infrastructure passed their limit. (Davies Mike Plant 2006 pages 4, 27)


Rio is not the only city with these types of squatter settlements, there are also some in existence in more than 20 countries like India, china and Arthe favelas in Rio so unique is their location on the the hillside with the charming views while the rich live along the bottom where conditions are less than dramatic contrast between the rich and the poor by

across Brazil, the shortage of utilities is a constant problem throughout all of them. Some Favelas location and how old they are but never the less all of these utilities are below standard. Clean water which is a must; is usually accessed by tapping into ways at the bottom of the hill and creates an incred(Fig) Only about 50% of the Faveladors have access to an in-house toilet facility. From these facilities, sewerage runs through open ditches and eventually ends up at street level, which causes serious health hazards. (Pearlman, Janice 1979, pages 83, 231,).

Electricity is in short supply and very hard to aconly a few houses but mainly only local shops are tension cords are run from these trunks to supply month which is usually much higher than what it is much higher than is being supplied and because ity is needed most in the evenings, there is hardly enough to run simple appliances. (Pearlman, Janice 1979, pages 20,28, 48 ) either incinerated on the hill or brought down to the street where the city is supposed to haul it away. many of the wooden houses and cause people to does not live up to its obligation to haul away the trash, it can build up on street and also become a source for disease. (Pearlman, Janice 1979, pages 207-220). (Fig)

expresses another situation where something as simple as having road names or door numbers can

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anjinha and Acerola become the favela's postmen. ernment won't deliver mail there; there are no street angers the residents and prompts a local drug lord and leader of the local association within the favela to make Acerola the favelas postmaster. Acerola and Laranjinha try to make some improvements to the system and initiate a scheme to name the streets of the favela so the post man is able to deliver the

Utilities youtube link)


s Views


revolves around their rural origins, this not so they show what the earliest Favelas where like, How they where arranged, in a grid system not too difmigrants where not welcome by original settlers of Rio because they believed the migrants which were mainly all farmers had a lack of urban experiFavelas are just a transfer of poverty form the country to the city and are responsible for the negative in urban poverty but in urban wealth. (Gita Dewan Verma slumming India a chronicle of slums and their saviours2002 Page 111) As a professional planner herself, Gita Dewan Verfrom the critiques of academics. Are the result of the plan promulgated in 1990 and therefore unexpected growth in population cannot be an excuse for the governmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s deliberate delay in providing cordance to the plan, Verma makes a very strong case for seeing slum-dwellers not as the culprits responsible for slumming cities, but the victims of urban development. few positive aspects in creating a perfect atmosphere for new industrial development. Because of the cheap labour that exists in the Favelas, indusmoney. Still others view the Favelas as just another part of the framework of Rio. It is a natural occurrence of the city that is compared to a weed growing in a garden; there will always be weeds. Despite these views, little is being done to modernize << improve? develop? the Favelas or even deal with the shortage of utilities. One of the advantages to living in these Favelas is that the rich provide many of the jobs, in way of services, which help sustain the livelihood of the Faveladors. Many of the rich rely on the cheap labour and service jobs that the Faveladors supply, but this does not subdue the criticism and negative Each Favela has its own community complete with grocery markets, clothing stores, pharmacies, repair ies depending on the location of the Favela and by cery, prices are higher in the Favelas than elsewhere

community based organizations which people can join to help put pressure on the city government to extend facilities.


Favelas located in the South Zone have the best structure of the wealthy and their need for people

Neither of these places would have access to such a public service. Because the Brazilian industrial economy is so depressed, factory jobs are very -

jobs can lead into permanent positions such as housekeepers, nannies or groundskeepers for

jobs in the area they live so they are forced on long

bonus of living in this type of Favelas, schooling. In Rio, schooling is divided by address of residency. Because of this, Faveladors are not allowed to attend these schools. If a parent has a connection or job with one of the wealthy residents, they can claim that as their home address and

coalitions are in constant battles to force the government to give money for a community school. It is nearly an impossible task to get funding of any type

not so for residents that are located in a Favela in an industrial zone or a suburbia.

of the house hold at a Favela, he talked about the hardship this woman has had to endure to only just be content with her present living condition. inner city is not considered as slums or part of the

worthwhile investment to put money into these poor communities. It would rather avoid the whole situato school their children. Despite this, there is an advantage to living further from the city. (Goldstein, Donna M 2003)

building materials like bricks and cement and follow the infrastructure dictated by surrounding buildings but are still unique in aesthetics and size because of Because of the high land value there isn't the mass migration of the very poor moving into the inner city (just poor) areas, trying to move up the class in the Favelas are looked down upon. Part of this is due to the fact that the majority of these migrants are black, Over 70% of the Faveladors are non white. Favelas and Brazil itself is predominantly non-white but it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seem to be in shown in local television et is the only Faveladors and black person in the work place. But Even though a very large portion of the population lives in the Favelas, the government

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have been maps made recently, by the city, that show vacant land where thousands of Faveladors live. It becomes easier to marginalize and forget the poor than to admit and deal with the situation. (Pearlman, Janice 1979, pages 20,28, 48 )


The Past

surprise. In Brazil, in especially in places like Rio and Sao Paulo are known for having a high num-

apartment buildings are normally commissioned by their land investment brazil does not have building legislation so one builds what he or she is able to ment are for people who work in city centre with high earnings, single or couples with no children and these apartment normally only have maximum apartment are seen as a must across brazil's capitals because o of the fear the middle class have of being robed.

people have just kept coming to Rio. As cleared rain forest land becomes un-farmable, farmers give up and move to the city. Despite being blamed for all kinds of Rio's social problems, the Faveladors have created a society based on cooperation to survive and have found a slot in the overpopulated city. Recently, the populations in the Favelas have levelled and the clearing of Favela settlements. Despite this, the migration to the city still continues. In many ways, Rio does not wish to acknowledge the existence of the Favelas would rather passively ignore them instead. By doing this the problem only gets worse and the Faveladors are still subject to marginis to build a wall around hundreds of Rio de Janeiro’s sprawling slums. Are they really eco-barriers, protecting the rainforest, or a disguise for the city’s social problems?

“Here in Brazil, a wall does not signify separation or division, a wall does not cause problems for the community” says the Police Captain.

Favela community is certain that the walls are intended to contain the slums in time for Rio to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Even they say, nervously patrolling the two entrances and exits to the Dona Marta slum. Rio’s 750 slums have ings and a Brazilian reality little seen by the tourists on the beaches. Yet the residents believe that barriers like this will only deepen centuries of social divide. Across Rio, the biggest Favela district of Mare, leaders say that the war will continue (journeyman’s “dark side of Rio” 2010)


In conclusion maybe I have missed the point of world cinema and I am naïve in thinking that iconic movie like the ones I have used as an example should truly express the countries personality and values in its realist form. And not merely be about

making business from the story and script being fall into the 70s and early 90s when Favelas really became what we know them as to day. City of God and City of Men, set in the 70s to 80s and tells the story of the Favelas at the peak of the problem. But the where made when Brazil was on the verge of electing a new president in the form of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva a man from a working class back ground.

a family portrait even if you don’t like the face or nose of aunt or an uncle because that is who you are( Jamie lemar journeyman interview 200... time....) As I understand it, the Media is the window of the world weather they may show you a little or a lot it is still controlled by some sort of governing body. What new and how they want the news present to us is still not in our control. In a similar way the writer and director tell their vision of a story and like news reports they are controlled by a type censorships, this maybe be because of cinema ratting or because of current Government Issues

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ing story line and paints a great picture of how the Favelas one of the most dangerous place in the more from the government’s point of view With every right the movies are made by the people for the people and in a way they show how isolated the people within the Favela communities really are. In terms of help and support from the government. Lund depiction of reality in the city of men, and …. In last stop 174 show independent associarest of the world gain an opinion and in some way experience the extreme from the safety of their own homes

In Conclusion


Bibliography Bibliography Davis, Mike, (2006) Planet of Slums, Verso London (2007) ISBN-13: 978-1-84467-160-1 pages 4, 27-31, 93, 99,102-108 Brazil Contemporary Architecture, Art and Visual Culture and Design NAi Publishers ISBN: 9789056626778 pages 170-175 California Press, Los Angeles, 1979. 58-68 Report on Human Settlements, 2003. London, , GBR: Earthscan, 2003. p 6. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ucreative/Doc?id=10128930&ppg=6 Copyright © 2003. Earthscan. All rights reserved. Goldstein, Donna M.. Laughter Out of Place : Race, Class, Violence, and Sexuality in a Rio Shantytown. Ewing, NJ, USA: University of California Press, 2003. p 102. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ucreative/Doc?id=10058522&ppg=102 Copyright © 2003. University of California Press. All rights reserved. Film Bibliography City of God 2002 Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund (DVD) Brazil Miramax Films City of Men 2007 Directed by: Paulo Morelli (DVD) Brazil: Miramax Films City of Men TV series Directed by: Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund (DVD) Brazil Globo TV. City of men shortcut http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyu-DQZGEPQ (3:05) Last stop 174 (2008) Directed by: Bruno Barreto (DVD) Brazil Paramount Pictures Bus 174 (2002) Directed by: Jose Padilha (DVD) Brazil: Zazen Produções United States New Yorker Films

City of men http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyu-DQZGEPQ (3:05) Images on captions Web sites Dickinson Charlie Review march 3rd 2004 http://www.hackwriters.com/graceland.htm


Gabriel Fayika

MY CINEMA SLUMS  

3rd year Dissertation on the cinematic portrayal of brazils slum through the eyes of their most thrilling and popular films

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