How Art Has Changed Some Brazil Favela’s Kids

Morrinho ProjectImprovising, a boy gathered bits of building blocks, cement and paint to build a toy: a mock up model of the favela (shantytown). Soon the children’s game became a serious business, found collaborators and started attracting attention.

Many chances later, the pioneers in the Morrinho Project were celebrating their participation in the World Urban Forum, which took place from September 13th to 17th, in an exhibition at the Barcelona Convention Center.


The project’s name, ‘Morrinho’ – which means ‘little hill’ in Portuguese – is in reference to the shantytowns in Rio de Janeiro, since most of them are on the hills surrounding the city.


It started in 2001, created by video producer Fábio Gavião, aiming to stimulate creativity, through building the mock-up, amongst the young residents in the Pereira da Silva community, known as the ‘Pereirão’ shanty town.


His other objective was to pass on to them some video technical know-how so as to help the teenagers to find a job in the area.


Together with Gavião, the program is coordinated by the photographer Marco Oliveira and artist Francisco Franco, and counts with the participation of 20 youngsters between 10 and 20 years old.


Many shantytowns in Rio de Janeiro are represented in the mock up and each child in the project ‘dominates’ a community. In this way, they dramatize the fights for area control and the different steps in the urbanization process.


Prize


The mock up currently covers 300 square meters, but only a portion of it was taken to Barcelona. In the beginning of the project it covered 120 square meters.


The mock up is inhabited by characters, represented by Lego toy dolls. These ‘actors’ play out the day-to-day life in the shantytowns, where some are having fun at the funk balls (typical parties in Rio de Janeiro shantytowns), others die, others go to work…


As well as celebrating the journey, the youngsters were able to enjoy an honorable mention at the 2004 Dubai International Prize for Habitat Best Practices, supported by the Emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and by the United Nations Organization (UNO).


Brazil had a representative amongst the 10 winners of the “Human Development Project of Aurá Community”, held by the city of Belém in the state of Pará in the north of Brazil.


Anniversary and Documentary


‘Morrinho’ completed 3 years in September, although the mock up is about 7 years old, according to Gavião, who started the project with 8 children from the community.


In 2001, Gavião went to the shantytown, in the Laranjeiras neighborhood in the northern part of the city of Rio de Janeiro, to film a documentary on the mock up.


Since the children felt shy about playing during the filming, Gavião decided to lend them the camera so that they could register the activities themselves, and thus was the beginning of “Morrinho TV”, a video school at the community.


The documentary, named “Morrinho, the film, a documentary” was not abandoned and the final shootings took place in Barcelona. There are about 120 hours of filming in digital format.


There is no prediction yet for the launching of the film. The 8 pioneers in the Morrinho Project are Gavião’s associates in the film.


One of the teenagers currently works in a production company. The group uses a digital video camera, bought with money donated by an NGO, and has in its portfolio more than 10 products, varying from video clips to an institutional film about violence made for the Brazilian Ministry of Health.


For Gavião, one of the plans for the future is to transform the mock up into a tourism itinerary, since he already receives visitors, and even schools, who came across their work through the media.


Apart from this, he also wants to build a headquarter for the project at the entrance of the shantytown.


ANBA – Brazil-Arab News Agency

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