Ernesto Varela in Rio – 1985

Days before the first Rock in Rio, Ernesto Varela (a character created by Marcelo Tas) goes to Rio to try to understand what makes someone an authentic Carioca. The star of the video is debatable – not sure if it’s Tas himself or the kid on the beach. Each video seems to have both Portuguese and English subtitles in the settings section.

The cameraman, called Valdeci, is none other than Fernando Meirelles, the City of God director. You can see this video and more on Tas’ official site.

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Juruna – The indigenous politician

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The only indigenous Federal representative in Brazil’s history, elected by PDT/RJ (1983 – 1987), Mário Juruna, returning money offered to him in an attempt at bribery, in 1984.


“He was born in Namurunjá village, near Barra do Garças, in the state of Mato Grosso, the son of the Xavante cacique (chief) Apoenã. He lived in the jungle, without contact with civilization, until the age of 17, when he became cacique.

In the 1970s he became famous for walking the halls of FUNAI, in Brasilia to fight for land rights of Indians, while carrying a tape-recorder, which he used to record everything that was said to him and to prove that the authorities, in most cases, did not keep their word.

He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil by the Democratic Labour Party from 1983–1987, representing Rio de Janeiro. His election had strong repercussions in Brazil and the world. He was responsible for the creation of a permanent commission for Indians, which brought formal recognition to issues related to Indians. In 1984, he denounced the businessman Calim Eid for having attempted to bribe him to vote for Paulo Maluf, the presidential candidate supported by the military regime then in power.” – Wikipedia

If you want to see more, try this Globo Reporter clip (8 min) from 1984.

Documenting Rio’s development

“Researchers of the Swiss Federal Institute WSL in Cadenazzo have developed a software tool which uses historical photographs to trace the development of a landscape over time. This solution has attracted the interest of a cultural institute in Brazil (IMS) which invited the program’s developers to Rio de Janeiro.” – Source

The video above is way longer than it needs to be but very cool to watch (fast-forwarding to the overlays). It reminds me of the Rice University project.

Pasmado Hill – Making room for the rich

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The Pasmado Tunnel connects Botafogo with Copacabana and Urca, passing through Pasmado hill. Construction started in 1947 and ended in 1952. The city, at the time, had horrible transit problems due to a surge in car ownership, which resulted in traffic congestion and accidents. The Lacerda government decided to relieve some of the pressure by making the tunnel. What ended up shortening travel time for those with enough money also meant increasing travel time for those with no money.

Following the opening of the tunnel, a small slum on top of the hill, known as the Favela do Pasmado, began to really grow in size, but by early 1964 it was removed and the space would be turned into a park and lookout point (which still exists).

Once the forced removal was complete (see images below), firefighters lit a controlled fire to burn any semblance of what existed before (a “purification by fire”, if you will). In total, 3,900 residents – or 887 families – were forced out and moved to the “projects”, mostly to Bangu. What was promised to them by the government, as incentive to accept the move, hadn’t become reality in October of ’64, as can be seen in this image saying they merely went from one favela to another.

Keep in mind, the post-removal fire is the opposite of what happened a few years later at Praia do Pinto in Leblon, which first was burned to the ground, then the residents were removed.

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If you’re interested in a good academic read on this favela removal, go here (PT). For the general wave of removals that happened in the 60s, there’s a promising 2013 documentary called Remoção out there but it doesn’t seem like it’ll be released publicly at any point. Below is the trailer.

The Pasmado tunnel, by the way, is also famous for a 1968 film starring singer Roberto Carlos, in which he passes through in a small helicopter.

Documentary Series – Rio Por Eles

The documentary series Rio Por Eles is a different kind of historical and sentimental revival of the city of Rio. In it, viewers will discover how foreign documentarists, reporters and TV broadcasting station saw the city throughout the 20th century. It’s a mostly black & white record of Rio through the eyes of foreigners in different languages.

Directed and scripted by Ernesto Rodrigues, the series is the result of a two year research project through hundreds of foreign sources, in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. Nine reporters from O Globo will take the viewer through 43 characteristic locations which contextualize more than 200 excerpts from 127 films and televised reports.

The series consists of five 30-minute episodes, which I’ve put in order below: the transformation of the landscape, the political happenings, the interpretation of Brazilian culture, the style & behavior, and finally the tragedies & disasters shown abroad.