Amidst considerable negative press surrounding the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, an Atlanta nonprofit is shining a bright light on the positive development stories coming out of local community projects in the Brazilian city.
Rise Up & Care, founded by Georgia Institute of Technology Professor Kirk Bowman, is sponsoring a film festival that debuts Aug. 11 in Rio. The festival, “Reimagine Rio,” features five films about individuals and communities transformed by local leaders’ efforts. From a badminton team comprised of kids from a shantytown “favela,” to a local circus also formed by favela children, plus other similarly inspiring stories, the films paint a brighter picture of Brazil’s future than may be portrayed in mainstream media.
Trailers of each film, which are directed by Lili Fialho and Kátia Lund (co-director of City of God), may be viewed at www.riseup.care or www.reimaginerio.com.br. The full feature films are being shown free of charge at 58 locations around Rio beginning Aug. 11.
“We are trying to tell a more accurate story of what’s happening in the world because the negativity is so pronounced; it can overwhelm the positive inspirational stories that are out there. Sharing this information is the way people can most help these communities,” Dr. Bowman told Global Atlanta in an interview. “There are so many false stereotypes. If people share these five trailers, they will have an impact on how we view poor people and poor communities. We love film because it’s such a powerful way of delivering these messages.”
Dr. Bowman said this project is exciting not only for the direct impact it will have on the community organizations it sponsors, but also because it highlights tangible cooperation and productivity coming out of connections between the cities of Atlanta and Rio.
Rio has been one of Atlanta’s sister cities since 1972, and two Rio de Janeiro film authorities signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in film making in 2014 with the City of Atlanta’s Mayor’s Office of Entertainment. This upcoming film festival demonstrates that those relationships are “really beginning to bear fruit,” Dr. Bowman said.
He said that the film festival is part of a larger research project he is working on at Georgia Tech that examines the roles of local leaders in organic community process innovation and social innovation.
Film is a means of capturing the innovation process and sharing it with a larger audience than just academic journals. Film is also an accessible way for us to understand the nuanced and complex social dynamics surrounding gender equality, identity, culture and poverty, Dr. Bowman added.
The dynamic films that Rise Up & Care produces showcase grassroots efforts that make a difference in locals’ lives in various developing countries, including Brazil. The recipients of funds are innovative nonprofit organizations that have been contributing to local communities for five to 10 years. All donations to Rise Up & Care go to these local organizations to further their work, Dr. Bowman said.
The next local film festival that Rise Up & Care is sponsoring, Reimagining the Americas, will be held in Colombia in 2018. This festival will feature stories underlining the ongoing peace process in Colombia and elsewhere in the region, Dr. Bowman said.
“There are a lot of these types of organizations to support and document and inspire the world through film. After 120-plus years of war, this is a critical time for the hemisphere,” he said.