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Favela Rising (Unrated)

Cable Premiere: May 23rd, 2006 at 7 PM on Cinemax.
Theatrical Release Date: June 2nd, 2006 by THINKfilm.
Directed by Matt Mochary, Jeff Zimbalist.
In Portugese with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about Anderson Sá, a leader of the AfroReggae movement in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Favela Rising opens with Anderson Sá describing his first encounter with violence as a young boy living in the favelas, a.k.a. slums, of Rio de Janeiro. Then, a shocking statistic pops up: between 1987 and 2001, 3,937 minors were murdered in just one city in Brazil compared to only 467 minors murdered in Israel and Palestine combined. In the favelas such as Vigário Geral, young children get hired every day to take part in a dangerous gang culture where the threat of gunfire battles between favela gangs occurs each day. Favela Rising also includes the amazing story of Anderson Sá who, along with José Junior, helped to unite many individuals from the favelas through their AfroReggae movement. This movement helped to shield many from taking part in violent gangs through performing music on a daily basis instead. Not surprisingly, the AfroReggae music has a dark tone which represents how angry and frustrated the favela people were by the on-going violence all around them. Favela Rising becomes truly fascinating when Sá, as well as others, describes in detail how AfroReggae made a big difference in reducing the number of gangmembers. Directors Matt Mochary and Jeff Zimbalist do a great job of initially showing powerful images and footage of the violent culture within the favelas of Rio and then logically shifting to the gripping story of Sá’s fight to end the violent wars between the favelas through his charismatic personality and his passion for music.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Early in the film, a young Brazilian boy flies a kite. If taken literally, this image shows the young boy signaling to others of imminent gang violence. However, symbolically, this image represents an innocent, peaceful moment within a child’s life which, in this case, is threatened to be taken away by means of the favela gangs. In many ways, Anderson Sá represents this young boy’s savior by forming a movement, AfroReggae, which gives him a chance to deter him from joining the gangs and help him to channel any anger through music. Sá wisely understands that this movement can only rise by the natural will of the people, not by forcing or manipulating them to join it—some people would be better off doing other non-violent activities. With neglect from the government during the violent period, the backbone of the favelas has been broken, but, much similar to Sá’s personal, moving success story of courage, the favelas manage to overcome their paralysis, so-to-speak, and to rise in unison. The outcome feels both uplifting and inspirational.



IN A NUTSHELL: A triumph! Unforgettable, powerful, and inspiring!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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