Monday, June 08, 2009

Favela Rising (movie review)

You could screen this as a double feature with Burma VJ and get a lot out of it, expect activists in both camps will compare notes by this means, as oppression has a similar face, as does fear, across human cultures.

I'm guessing Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs (Woody Woo we call it) has this DVD in the docket, required viewing in some courses. This isn't Marxism or Christianity so much as a clear eyed indigenous movement borne of pain and suffering, and therefore brilliant, perfect for its time and place. The film makers do a magnificent job with this, another political film that's likewise an art film.

A chief characteristic of the AfroRegge political analysis is not waiting for external authorities to solve the problem, although international investment certainly helps big time. The biggest temptation, leading to the longest detour, is to give in to revenge as a primary motive. You'll find people on all sides ready to stop and reconsider, and that's what's most hopeful.

People living in dire poverty can't be blamed for needing and wanting to self medicate, just like Iraqi troops and civilians alike are heavy into Prozac, plus those Rio police obviously get stoked (the guns themselves are an addictive drug, a symbol of power where people feel powerless -- druglords and cops form a seamless business, is one of the ecological facts on the ground).

Poetically, the medical profession steps in at a very high level to apply a fix, pulls a miracle out of the hat, great when that happens. The DVD itself is destined to fuel our Music Millennium going forward, which is something to celebrate. AfroRegge is highly reputable and professional, another group to win games for when our Coffee Shops Network hits the ground running.

Shortly after viewing this film, I found myself with Carol (my mom) interviewing Keiko regarding her personal experiences with favelas in Brazil. That fear of getting lost between the airport and downtown Rio was palpable through her story, even though she's fluent and a veteran of São Paolo and LA. Many USA zip codes inspire similar feelings of dread, confront pretty much the same issues.