Full blast, non-stop

The hit documentary about Rio’s baile funk scene finally gets it’s DVD release

Since it’s release in 2008, Favela on Blast has toured more than 45 film festivals in 21 countries around the world. Directed by Leandro HBL and Wesley Pentz (a.k.a DJ/producer Diplo), the film is a portrait of the funk carioca / baile funk subculture of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.

Baile funk music evolved from Miami bass in the 1980s and combines drum loops, samples and rapping. A commentary on violence and poverty and a celebration of sex, it’s fast, sensual and compelling, reflecting the favelas themselves. When the funk MC Tati Qeubra Barraco sang “sou feia, mas tô na moda” (“I’m ugly but people dig me”) back in 2005, nobody knew how long the hype would last. But whilst baile funk has caught the imagination of the international community, it’s divided opinion within Brazil itself.

“In Brazil people have a lot of prejudice about funk, they think it’s pornographic and stupid. At the same time the police think that funk attracts criminals. This is true but funk is the soundtrack for the lives of the whole community, not just the criminals”, Leandro explains. “Still, attitudes are changing. And funk is maturing a lot and becoming more accepted.”

In much the same way that capoeira and samba were both once prohibited before becoming integral parts of Brazilian culture, baile funk’s now gaining acceptance amid society. In 2008 the federal government of Rio state passed a law that made it virtually impossible to organise funk parties, only to be repealed in 2009 and a new law introduced that defined funk as a “cultural and musical expression of popular character”, giving it greater protection. “Baile funk is an important part of community life; it’s here to stay,” says Leandro.

Favela on Blast is a colourful, vibrant journey through the favelas, introducing the movement’s main players, and those with an open mind will no doubt enjoy the ride.

Two of Baile Funk’s heroes

Mr Catra
Also known as The Faithful, Wagner Domingues Costa to his mum, Mr Catra is a controversial hero of funk. Singing about wars with criminal gangs, the police, sex and hope for the future, Mr Catra is a busy man… reputed to have more than 18 children!

Deize Tigrona
The most prominent female funk MC, Deize Tigrona worked as a house cleaner before shooting to fame. Her breakthrough track Injeção contains typically explicit lyrics and tongue-in-cheek metaphor. Tigrona has found international success, going on tour and collaborating with artists such as Diplo and Buraka Som Sistema.

By James Hurrell


Favela on Blast
Out on DVD & digital download from July 20th

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