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‘What Favela Did You Build in Your Minds?’ Black Filmmakers Discuss ‘City of God’ [VIDEO]

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This English subtitled mini documentary is the latest contribution to our year-long reporting project, “Rooting Anti-Racism in the Favelas: Deconstructing Social Narratives About Racism in Rio de Janeiro.” Follow our Rooting Anti-Racism in the Favelas series here.

The starting point for ‘What Favela Did You Build in Your Minds?’ is fear. Fear of the favela and of the favelado, built in the collective imaginary by Brazilian cinema. The fear I have experienced since childhood. In the 2000s, a series of films containing stigmatized views of Rio’s favelas—such as City of God, Once Upon a Time in Rio, Last Stop 174, Elite Squad and City of Men—were produced and I, as a resident of a neighborhood in the interior of Nova Iguaçu, in Baixada Fluminense, became a child spectator of such films. I remember that, during this time, I was very scared of walking in Centro, Rio’s downtown, and scared of the favela that was being built in my mind as an unsafe place, a place where someone might take my life at any moment.

The mini documentary ‘What Favela Did You Build in Your Minds?’ comes from a place of discomfort with what is taken as common sense, with patterns that have been introduced by dominant narratives about the favela. ‘What Favela Did You Build in Your Minds?’ focuses on the testimonies and analyses of two black filmmakers: filmmaker and historian Kelly Tiburcio, director of the film Não Grita (Don’t Scream), and filmmaker Yuri Costa, director of Egum.

“It’s always violence for violence’s sake. At no point does [the film] problematize why it’s like that. It doesn’t present a critical view, it’s just a display [of violence]… I’ve tried to propose another type of representation [of the favela] in a more commercial context… [the examining committee] criticized me, ‘no drug dealers in your story?’ … [They asked me:] get some violence in here.” — Kelly Tiburcio

“The invisibility of black production in this country isn’t just a product of negligence, of ignorance. It’s a [political] project… [We must have] a new narrative, built from scratch, modeled after black references.” — Yuri Costa

Don’t miss our mini doc with English subtitles above or here.

Cleyton Santanna hold degrees in journalism and screenwriting from UFRRJ and the CriaAtivo Film School. He uses his YouTube channel to address oddities, ancestry, and Afro-Brazilian culture. In 2017, he produced two documentaries: “Entre Negros” (Between Blacks) and “Tudo Vai Ficar Bem” (Everything is Gonna Be OK), and was recognized as a screenwriter in 2018 by the Creative Economy Network for the short “Vandinho.”  He is currently a communicator for The Museum of Tomorrow and hosts the Influência Negra podcast.


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