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Favela Rising cover photo

Favela Rising 2005

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Third World Newsreel, 545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018; 212-947-9277
Produced by Jeff Zimbalist
Directed by Jeff Zimbalist and Matt Mochary
DVD, color, 88 min.

College - General Adult
Latin American Studies, Crime, Music, Urban Studies

Date Entered: 09/08/2011

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

In Portuguese, favela means an impoverished ghetto generally inhabited by illegal squatters, criminals and the desperately poor. There are hundreds of favelas in Rio de Janeiro. Long a recruiting ground for rival drug lords as well as a battlefield between gangs and a corrupt police force, one of the worst of these slums is in the Vigario Geral neighborhood. Called the Brazilian Bosnia, the daily sounds are those of gunshot, screaming, crying and constantly circling helicopters. A police massacre of 21 residents in 1993 that included his brother pushed Anderson Sa, a child of the favela and former drug runner himself, into mobility. Along with Jose Junior, Sa formed Grupo AfroReggae as a grass roots alternative to a seemingly hopeless environment. What began as percussion workshops for local youth is now an internationally recognized music and cultural movement that spread out from Vigario Geral to other favelas and the world.

In this outstandingly edited and vibrantly photographed documentary, Americans Zimbalist and Mochary perfectly capture both the extreme violence of the favela along with the hopeful idealism and enthusiasm of the AfroReggae community. Available for the first time on DVD, the film was made in 2004 and includes brief interviews interspersed with live action footage. It is a powerful and uplifting statement of individual action and commitment that is deserving of its multiple international awards.

Highly recommended.

Awards - Winner of 36 international film awards including:

  • Best Feature International Documentary Association 2005
  • Official Selection Silverdocs Documentary Festival 2005
  • Best Documentary Sydney International Film Festival
  • Best Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Tribeca Film Festival