We could say that Marcel Camus' 1959 award-winning Black Orpheus introduced the rest of the world to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; although it's probably better known for the Antônio Carlos Jobim-composed bossa nova-infused soundtrack.
But I'd probably wager that most audiences outside of Brazil today will likely look to Fernando Meirelles' critically-lauded and blistering 2002 smash City Of God as their first intro to life in the favelas – the bairros africanos (African neighborhoods), where former slaves with no land ownership and no options for work, lived.
Since then, it seems like a few similar films have traveled (or maybe we – here in the USA – were suddenly more aware of them), with some maybe hoping to cash in on the success of Meirelles' film. Call it favela-fever.
But there's obviously a fascination.
Here's a film that we profiled back in July (when it was set to screen at MoMA's Premiere Brazil! event), which actually made its debut at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, and that has made its way to the States (2 years later) – specifically NYC – and will be screening at Lincoln Center in Manhattan, in a presentation brought to you be ImageNation and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and produced in association with CrossPath Culture and Acrobeat.
The screening event will include a live performance by Brazil’s own Beatriz Azevedo.
Titled 5 X Favela, Agora por Nós Mesmos (or 5 X Favela, Now By Ourselves), the feature is a collection of five fiction shorts, each telling a different story about favela-dwelling, and each directed by a different filmmaker.
Here are descriptions of the 5:
SOURCE OF INCOME Directors: Manaíra Carneiro and Wagner Novais A young man fulfils his dream to go to Law University, but is faced with difficulties paying up his expenses with books and transport. He feels tempted to sell drugs to his friends at university, thus raising the money to fund his studies.
RICE AND BEANS Director: Rodrigo Felha and Cacau Amaral Wesley, a young boy, listens to a confession by his father: he is tired of the household menu, always consisting of a plate filled with rice and stewed beans. The boy, joined by his friend Orelha, decides to find some money to buy a chicken.
CONCERT FOR VIOLIN Director: Luciano Vidigal The children Márcia, Jota and Ademir vow to remain friends for ever. Later, in their adulthood, Jota is involved in drug trafficking while Ademir has joined the police force. If the two are brought against each other, Márcia may be prevented from fulfilling her dream to play the violin.
LET IT FLY Director: Cadu Barcelos Flávio lets his friend’s kite fall across the other quarter of the favela, which is run by a rival gang. Even though he is aware of the prohibition, Flávio decides to collect the kite.
LET THERE BE LIGHT Director: Luciana Bezerra On Christmas Eve, the shanty town hill has been out of power for three days. The engineers who have been sent over by the power utility company do not manage to fix the problem. The residents kidnap one of the engineers, taking him as a hostage until the light supply is restored.
The trailer, embedded below, promises a somewhat more vibrant look at the lives of men and women living in these so-called shanty towns in Brazil – vibrant compared to the usually gritty, bleak, dark and deadly images past movies have given us.
Tonight's screening will start at 7pm at Lincoln Center (165 W. 65th St); Admission is $30 General Public; $27 Students & Seniors; $25 Film Society & ImageNation Members.
Keep in mind the fee also includes a includes: a live performance by Beatriz Azevedo, a screening of the film, photography by Brazilian artist Andre Cypriano and Cannon Hersey, and a post-screening reception.
I couldn't immediately find a trailer with English subtitles, but you should be able to get a feel for the film from the images, and music: