On a rainy night under a noisy overpass in Morro da Providência, in Rio de Janeiro’s downtown, favela residents, activists, filmmakers, and movie fans came together for Favela Feminista: Marielle Presente (Feminist Favela: Marielle is Present), a screening of short films made by women filmmakers in Rio. The event, organized by Favela Cineclub, had been postponed for a week after the brutal murder of Rio city councillor Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes. The rescheduled event on March 22 was dedicated to Franco, with the films preceded by a video celebrating the city councillor and followed by a powerful and emotional discussion with the filmmakers about their work, Franco’s legacy, and ongoing violence perpetrated against black people in Brazil.
Feminist films: Brazilian warriors
The films were chosen to showcase the work of female directors in Rio for International Women’s Day, and included fiction, documentaries, and activist media. As stated on the cinema club’s Facebook event page, the short films all had one thing in common: “their protagonists are all Brazilian female warriors.”
‘O Som do Teu Toque‘ (The Sound of Your Touch) is a call to arms to fight domestic violence against women. Sabrina Viegas, the director, stated after the film that “we have to denounce violence. We must do something.” The documentary ‘Lua’ looks at expressions of femininity and childhood experiences through the eyes of Lua Guerreiro, a trans, non-binary resident of Rio. ‘Moradores da Maré: D. Orosina e D. Vera’ (Maré Residents: Dona Orosina and Dona Vera) pays homage to one of the earliest residents of Complexo da Maré and provides a glimpse into the Maré Museum, one of the first spaces of its kind inside a favela. ‘Não Pense Que Sabe Ser Quem’ (Don’t Think You Know Who You Are) by Leila Xavier is a raw piece that evokes questions about black identity. ‘Maria Adelaide’ is a beautifully shot film that brings an element of hope to the screen, following a young woman’s quest to find herself after she moves to Rio de Janeiro. The message of the film, according to the director, Catarina Almeida, is that “life can be good.”
‘Marielle Presente’: Stop killing our people
After the screenings, the audience was invited to create a circle on the adjoining concrete sports pitch and join a discussion with the filmmakers, led by film critic Samantha Brasil. Many of those present knew Marielle Franco personally and all had been inspired by her work. Tears were shed as the filmmakers discussed her legacy and the ongoing violence perpetrated in Brazil against black people. Rosa Miranda, director of ‘Lua’ and founder of the Kbça D’ Nêga art collective, fought back tears as she demanded: “Stop killing our people!” Historian Carolina Rocha, who contributed two poems to the film ‘Manifesto 8M – Rosas da Sangue’ (Manifesto 8M – Blood Roses), asked the question: “Us black women save men, but who saves us?” before leading the group in a song celebrating female solidarity, the overwhelming theme of the discussion.
After the event, RioOnWatch spoke with Maria de Fatima Lima, known as Fatinha Lima, a Providência resident and Favela Cineclub founder.
RioOnWatch: What motivated you to start Favela Cineclub in 2016?
Lima: At the time I wanted to occupy spaces through which to organize to fight against the coup [impeachment of Dilma Rousseff] that struck the already fragile Brazilian democracy, using legal and media institutions. I also have a passion for cinema and had attended the Cineclube Mate Com Angu, in Duque de Caxias, Baixada Fluminense, and seen the size and power of this activity as a vehicle to promote discussion and debate.
RioOnWatch: How have Cineclub organizers’ lives been impacted by the project?
Lima: We have gone from being mere observers, passive and defenseless, to activists, alternative media producers, and authors of our own narratives. Today we are debating topics that interest us, which are urgent, but which society refuses to touch. We went from being the audience to actors in the political process.
RioOnWatch: How has this project changed since its inception?
Lima: The project did not change, it developed and grew. We started investing in creating information and technology sharing networks. Ultimately, the goal and the event itself remains the same, but myself and the other people involved in the Cineclub are changing. My mother, who was not involved in human rights issues before, now asks questions… She has begun to wonder and question things that she had not thought about before. Urgent matters that are part of the struggle for racial and social equality.
RioOnWatch: What are Favela Cineclub’s future plans?
Lima: Our plans are to continue to hold events for children and adults, and debates for the adult and favela population, who we believe need to assert their place of speech and begin to produce their own narrative. The first step is to understand your home, your territory, and have basic rights acquired and respected. For example, access to the cinema. In this sense, we have a dream of starting a film school within Morro da Providência. I already have a location in mind: the huge five-story building near my house, which is currently occupied by the PMERJ (Rio de Janeiro State Military Police) as the UPP (Pacifying Police Unit) headquarters. We would like to be able to help children journey to other places that can broaden their view of the world. Thus, we want to create access to courses, materials, and equipment.
In summary, our plans are to improve our economic sustainability, to be able to continue doing what we do, which is to contribute to bringing cinema and audiovisual media to the population of Providência and stimulate reflections on citizenship and human rights.