Belo Monte – Documentary

Belo Monte – Announcement of a War/Anúncio de uma Guerra

“This is an independent documentary made during 3 expeditions at the Xingu River, Altamira, Brasília and São Paulo. It presents very serious facts about Belo Monte dam, the biggest and most polemical construction going on in Brazil today.

The editing and finalization of the movie were crowdfunded by 3.429 people in the Catarse website.”

Noiva do Cordeiro – Commune of Women


“Maria Senhorinha de Lima, resident of a village called Roças Novas had been married 3 months with the Frenchman Arthur Pierre, when she decided to abandon him to live with the farmer Francisco Augusto Araújo Fernandes. This story, which started at the end of the 19th century, gave birth to the predominantly female rural commune of Noiva do Cordeiro.

The attitude of the Senhorinha, very uncommon for the era, made the couple become the target of prejudice. They were forced to leave Roças Novas when the local population started to treat them as outcasts. Senhorinha and Francisco went to live on an isolated piece of land, where they made a family. The discrimination continued with their descendents, leaving them isolated from the other towns and cities of the region.

The name of the district came about when the pastor Anísio Pereira, around the 1940s, married Delina Fernandes, one of Dona Senhorinha’s grand-daughters. He founded the Noiva do Cordeiro Evangelical Church in the town. The introduction of the Protestant religion was a shock to the residents of the region who were predominantly Catholic.

The rules of the religion were conservative, bringing many restrictions upon the residents, principally the women. At the time, they didn’t have enough food to go around, there were problems with the energy supply and difficulties with transportation. The religious oppression came together with the prejudices that were growing among the neighboring communities. The girls were called prostitutes, the children were discriminated against at school and the men had a hard time finding work. As part of the religion, music was also prohibited in the commune.

During the wedding of one of the local women in the later half of the 20th century, an exception was made to the no-music rule and everyone started to dance, even those who had never heard music nor danced before. From that point on, the group started to reflect on the restrictions of the church and how it made life there difficult.

Unsatisfied, the residents decided to say goodbye to the church in 1990. Where it once stood, today is a bar, a place for encounters, dances and having fun. The group members had started to live without a religion and without formalities. Oppression was substituted with happiness and today the community sells the fruits of its residents’ labor and elects its own city council members. As part of all the changes, the other communities started to accept them as their own, but despite the changes, Noiva do Cordeiro is still a commune where everyone participates in all areas of work, fun and family.”

Check out the documentary (PT) below on the town

Listening comprehension? Youtube has you covered

(a shot of the TV Folha newsroom)

After all this time, I still really love hearing Brazilian Portuguese, and I also love finding new ways to hear it. With the Internet these days, doing so is not so hard but finding a sustained listening experience isn’t always as easy. Over the years, I’ve come across a few means of finding a fix for my needs and I’d like to share them with you.

TV Cultura

One Youtube feed I discovered just recently is the TV Cultura channel which, among other things, hosts an interview show called Provocações with presenter Antônio Abujamra. The show, which went on the air in 2000, shows interviews that are interweaved with recited poems and “vozes das ruas” (opinions from people on the street). Abujamra interviews intellectuals, artists, celebrities and even everyday people. Check out his recent interview with Serginho Groisman, presenter of another show, Altas Horas.

(if Provocações isn’t your thing, try out Repórter Ecoalso on TV Cultura)

TV Folha

Another Youtube channel I discovered last year is that of TV Folha, part of São Paulo’s Folha newspaper. The format is different, in that it’s news-oriented, and the topics are varied. Below is part of last week’s show, and on their channel you can find many more like it.

Globo Rural

While not a channel, there are many videos on Youtube with episodes or segments of Globo Rural which, as its name infers, covers rural topics. I’ve seen only a few but the ones I saw were interesting. Below, you’ll see a segment on Zabé da Loca, a flute player from the northeast.

A Cidade É Uma Só? – Brasília Documentary

Looks interesting. I’ve seen up-close what it’s like living in one of Brasília’s satellite cities, as shown in the first scenes of the trailer. I have memories of dirt roads, poorly-made, small houses made of bricks, dogs and chickens making a rukus before bed and at dawn, as well as the hospitality and kindness of a family that lives there.

“A reflextion of 50 years of Brasília and the daily lives of residents of Ceilândia, one of the capital’s satellite cities.”

For the Love of Forró – film

This great little documentary was made in 2008 by Adriana Caitano and Galton Sé, journalism graduates from the University of Brasília. The film shows the pé-de-serra movement, composed principally of young people from southcentral Brazil who idolize the more traditional forró, disseminated by Luiz Gonzaga in the 50s, and based on the accordian-triangle-bass drum formation. These forró lovers research the musical style, listen to vinyls and get together several times a year in festivals where forró is played 24 hours per day. In the film, three such festivals are shown: Rootstock (SP), RioRoots (RJ) and Festival Nacional de Forró de Itaúnas (ES).

(There are English subtitles but you may have to activate them by clicking the video’s ‘caption’ button on the Youtube site.)

This Week’s Brazil Videos

Lorenzo Bustani, a young Brazilian marketing executive, explains how he’s advising Nike and other giant American brands that want a foothold in Brazil ahead of the Olympics. The bottom line? They need to make an impact on the community before they can make an impact on the consumer. As part of “The Real Brazil” special series, he gives Bloomberg’s Trish Regan a tour of a Rio skatepark built by Nike – but with no trace of the company’s logo.

Stratfor explains Brazil’s geographic challenge to consolidate control over its vast territory and connect its regions more efficiently.

Brazil has officially inaugurated its new national stadium in the capital, Brasilia.President Dilma Rousseff took to the pitch in what is Brazil’s most expensive stadium, having cost more than $750m to build.With the Confederations Cup less than a month away and the World Cup little more than a year away, Brazil has rushed to complete 12 new stadiums in the country.

Trish Regan investigates Brazil’s immense oil reserves, and explains how General Electric is developing new technology in an attempt to extract it from beneath the ocean floor.

Famous for its churches, the historic city of Ouro Preto, in Minas Gerais, turned into a track for the best of downhill mountainbike riders in South America. 18-year-old Lucas Borba won the Red Bull Desafio das Cruzes.

Trish Regan reports on how a cheap, bland (but oddly refreshing) Rio beach drink has broken into the American market, and set off a brand war between beverage giants Coke and Pepsi.

Imagina na Copa


“Imagina na Copa!”, loosely translated as “Imagine it during the World Cup!” is a phrase that has been oft-repeated in Brazil in the last year or two. For most of its lifespan, it has been used to refer to something that doesn’t work the way it should or to something that will worsen (such as traffic congestion) during a mega-event such as the World Cup. But what if the phrase was transformed into a force for good? That’s the hope of the site Imagina na Copa which is posting, week by week, 75 stories of how young people are improving their own surroundings.

“Every week, we’re going to post stories of young people that are transforming the country for the better. These stories will serve as inspiration and will show that it’s possible to make a difference with the resources that we have. The idea here is also to facilitate the interaction between the visitors to the site and the young people behind the initiatives.”

The site will also sponsor workshops for up to 25 young people in the 12 Brazilian host cities. The objective being to help those interested to better understand the project and plan their own involvement. By combining theory, design and practice, the team behind the site hope to generate interest as well as new ideas.

As part of week 9, the story revolves around two social entrepreneurs who are transforming their city of Porto Alegre. They decided the 5,000 bus stops in Porto Alegre needed some sort of sign that indicated which bus routes passed by that location. The way they went about it was to create large stickers with white space where bus riders themselves could write in the bus routes. The collaborative effort was vandalized more than once and now the governmental entity in charge of transportation in the city is working in conjunction with the entrepreneurs to implement the project in the best way possible.

If you’d like to see the other 8 stories (thus far) from Imagina na Copa, you can do so on their site or via their Youtube channel.

A closer look at Rio politics


I just finished watching Vocação do Poder, a 2004 documentary (PT) that “follows the campaign of 6 candidates (out of 1,100 for just 50 vacancies) to the municipal legislative council of the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, in the 90 days preceding election day. All of them dispute their first election, but only a few will be successful.” Read more (PT)

It was definitely interesting to get a bit of an inside look at what the candidates go through. Most seem like “filhinhos do papai” (no shock there) and there are a few subtle instances of vote buying via the trading of favors (again, no shock). The strangest thing, even with my familiarity with Brazilian life, is that the candidates have a singular focus of name/face/number recognition, as opposed to stating what they stand for and debating those points. One voter even says something to the tune of “if you don’t make any promises, I’m likely to vote for you.” I mean, I understand the reasoning (too many promises made but not kept) but at the same time it seems counterintuitive.

(the 6 candidates from the film)

Another strange thing, from having watched a friend run for vereadora (city counsilor) in Rio, is that she was forced to visually affiliate herself with Mayor Eduardo Paes when making the campaign posters (you can see this in the documentary on the young candidate’s poster which has Cesar Maia’s face on it). The fact is though, she hated the guy and from the get-go wanted to distance herself politically from everything he stands for. And as far as posters and handouts go, they need to be considered visual pollution, and people should actually stop taking accepting them.

All in all, it’s not the candidates that will give the people what they want, it’s the system that needs to be turned on its head so that it attracts the kind of candidates that the people want represting them. My father once relayed to me an important lesson of business which I think should be utilized for politics, too: Don’t trade an act for a promise. In other words, trade an act for an act or a promise for a promise but not one for the other.

Isis de Oliveira and the Radionovela


The radio-actress Isis de Oliveira, who between the years 1940 and 1960 was one of the great names of Rádio Nacional do Rio de Janeiro died on Tuesday (May 7th), at age 91, in Niterói (RJ).

Isis de Oliveira was the stage name of Ivete Savelli, born March 18, 1922. She joined the Rádio Nacional in 1941 after winning a radio-theater test along with actor Altivo Diniz, in a talent show put on by the station. For over 20 years she participated, often as lead actress, in soap operas and dozens of Nacional plays at the time at the radio station with the largest audience in Brazil and the most important in Latin America.

The actress was married to the Nacional announcer Jairo Argileu. In 1964, Argileu was among the dozens of station staff members fired for political reasons by the military dictatorship. Isis remained with Nacional until 1972, when she left the radio for two years (to practice law). In 1974, she returned and joined Radio Tupi in Rio, where she worked until 1979. – Source (PT)

(from Direito de Nascer)

The Radionovela and Direito de Nascer

The first radio transmission in Brazil went on the air on September 7th, 1922, though radios were expensive so it took a good long while for their price to go down. When they were more affordable, there wasn’t much of a reason to actually buy one even when one-time, weekly plays (one series of single plays from the late 1930s was called Teatro em Casa) were recorded for the new medium. It took bringing the news to the airwaves for widespread consumption to occur. Once the people were hooked, Brazilian radio stations in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro began making radionovelas. Since the early 30s, Cuba had been broadcasting them, too, and many of Brazil’s first shows were actually Cuban, adapted for Brazilian audiences. The first of its kind in Brazil was Em Busca de Felicidade (In Search of Happiness), in which Isis de Oliveira participated.

Considered the largest success of all time (throughout Latin America), the radionovela Direito de Nascer (Right to be Born) went on the air in 1951 and stayed at the top during its 3 years on the air (a long time, considering some radionovelas had storylines that only lasted 2 months). According to Wikipedia, it was so omnipresent that it was popularly known as “Direito de Encher” (Right to Fill Up, or maybe more likely, Right to Be Annoyed).

With the arrival of the 1960s, the radio gave way to the television and so it’s fairly safe to say that the newer generations grew up without the ability to put their imaginations to work. I say this because television, like film, hand-feeds the viewer while radio, like literature, has the power to light up the viewer’s imagination.

Here’s a snippet of Isis de Oliveira on Direito de Nascer, which was remade by TV Tupi twice in 1954 and 1978, redone for Mexican audiences in the 1980s, and again redone in Brazil for SBT in 2001.