'Favela Beat' tells the story of an afro-Brazilian family's commitment to perpetuating the samba tradition within their favela community. Samba culture transcended prejudice and came to represent Brazilian identity, offering a democratic space for Brazilians of all ages, races, religions and social classes. It has been hugely instrumental in breaking down barriers between the afro-Brazilian favela dwellers and Brazilians of European descent. The film is set in Cantagalo favela, perched on the hill above the famous Ipanema beach. Cantagalo was once regarded to be one of Rio's most violent slums and is still represented negatively in the media today. However, a transformation is underway and the catalyst for social change is samba. Social projects within the favela use samba music and dance to connect with at risk youth, encouraging an alternative path to drug-trafficking. The presence of samba in the favela is diminishing however, due to the popularity of 'funk carioca' among the youth, the UPP police's interference in local festivities and the commercialisation of carnival. This film aims to change negative perceptions of what lies within the labyrinth of a favela, whilst encouraging the preservation of a music and dance form that has given a political voice and a sense of cultural identity to afro-Brazilian communities for generations.
Directed, filmed and edited by Rowena Baines
Maisa Souza, Julia Penha, Mestra Dâ, Dona Sônia, Gari Sorriso, Patrick Carvalho and the community of Cantagalo