Cidade de Deus, the community also known as ‘City of God’, is located in the East Zone of Rio de Janeiro. During the summer of 2010, four graduate students from The New School’s International Affairs Program, in collaboration with local students from Rio de Janeiro, carried out a video and child rights project in Cidade de Deus. Approximately 15 local children and youth between the ages of 7 and 14 participated.
Participating children and youth learned how to use a small Flip video camera and obtained basic videography skills related to framing, lighting, audio and composition. They practiced interview skills and formulated interview questions while learning about children’s rights and the United Nations Child Rights Convention. The 15 children were divided into four groups, each with a specific focus: the right to education, right to health, right to free time and play and right to be taken care of by family or a care taker. The children filmed visual material and interviews throughout their community. The material was then edited into a 30-minute documentary Entitled “Nossos Direitos na Cidade de Deus”– “Our Rights in City of God”. The 30-minute film was screened for the children and community members at the end of the summer.
Participatory media projects such as the ‘Our Rights’ video project highlight Participation. When children are given video and photography cameras and
taught the skills to use them responsibly, they will show a side of their lives and their communities that others do not see. Their candid and honest approach opens the eyes of the viewers in a different and refreshing way. More than anything the videos reminds us that being a child in about joy, happiness, play and love, even in the most difficult communities.
The children of Cidade de Deus are very much aware of their surroundings and the issues they face every day. But the project results also demonstrate that the negative images portrayed by the mainstream media are only one part of life in a Favela community. Cidade de Deus is full of life and joy, as depicted in ‘Nossos Direitos na Cidade de Deus’. Even though issues such as insecurity, violence, lack of access to health care, poor and deteriorating playgrounds and problems with education are a part of everyday reality, the children are far from hopeless or powerless. Given the opportunity, they are agents for change.