Master of Arts (MA)
This 14-minute documentary follows Tatiane and Rafa, two aspiring actors in Rio de Janeiro's favela of Vidigal in Brazil. They are both performing in “Noites de Vidigal” (Nights of Vidigal) a community play about their favela and the challenges it has faced in the last decades. As we follow Tatiane and Rafa while they rehearse and perform, viewers are offered a window into their lives and the world around them.
Tatiane and Rafa aren't just aspiring actors but community members who experience firsthand the joys and hardships of living in a favela.
Vidigal, the favela Tatiane and Rafa live in, plays a major role in the documentary. As with most of Rio’s favelas the government has significantly neglected it since it began to form in the early 1900s. Vidigal developed without government supervision, which lead to lack of infrastructure and opportunity, as well as a strong sense of community.
To provide the historic and broad view necessary to fully understand the favela, Andrea, a local barman and active resident of Vidigal guides viewers through these larger realities.
Realities that are reflected in Tatiane and Rafa’s lives and are further understood through the play they perform in as well as everyday street scenes of the favela. As most coverage of favelas tends to focus on gangs, guns and violence, this documentary aims to show a different side of favela life anchored in a strong sense of community, theater and empowerment through the arts. However, the documentary doesn't gloss over the challenges that come with living in a favela and aims to help viewers witness these complexities as lived by our characters.
Watch the full video here:
Thornell, Christina, "VIDIGAL NIGHTS: Big Dreams in a Small Favela" (2016). CUNY Academic Works.