A Place to Take Away

(Em busca de um lugar comum)
(Brazil, 2012, 80 mins, DCP)
North American Premiere
PROD Angelo Defanti
SCR/ED Felippe Schultz Mussel
CAM Pedro Urano, Rodrigo Graciosa, André Lavaquial, Thiago Lima Silva
PROD CO Sobretudo Produção
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The favelas of Brazil have long fascinated foreigners. But what happens when these impoverished slums become a thriving tourist attraction? Felippe Schultz Mussel’s probing documentary not only explores Rio’s Favela da Rocinha but also the perspectives of the tour guides who navigate its corridors and the residents whose squalid homes have somehow been deemed postcard perfect. Drug dealing, gangs and poverty have long since been commodified by the entertainment industry; in our culture of aggressive capitalism, slum tourism may simply be the next logical step.

We follow various guides as they lead jaded tourists through an area most Brazilians won’t go near. There are warnings about looking residents in the eye, taking pictures in the wrong places and giving money to the wrong people. Danger is a key selling point—as long as it exists at a remove, as in all entertainment. There is a cruel irony in the guides’ situation: natives of the favelas themselves, they are surviving by embracing the ethic of exploitation that keeps such places alive. In our age there’s a fine line between learning and consuming, looking and possessing, and here we see people crossing it without even knowing—or caring.

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