Samuel Chalard, Switzerland, 2017, 93'
World Premiere
Saturday August 5th, 11.00, Cinema Teatro Kursaal
Sunday August 6th, 18.30, L'altra Sala

en / it / de / fr

In the spring of 2016, we all read the headlines, heard the news reports and were briefly appalled: 'Forced relocations in Rio', 'Favela must give way to the Olympics'. But the headlines disappeared and, with them, the memory of the people who stood in the way of this megalomaniac sports event. Favela Olímpica by Samuel Chalard brings them, the people behind this story, back to the big screen. In fact, 'Vila Autódromo' would be a kind of flagship favela: Poor families live here, dedicated people, who keep their favela village mostly free of crime and drugs and who manage their village together. They built their homes themselves, one of the inhabitants calls it his paradise on Earth. Vila Autódromo is beautifully located, behind the racetrack and on a lake on the outskirts of Rio. However, it is right next to the grounds where the large Olympic infrastructure was planned to be built. The Swiss director Chalard documents the lengthy fight of the neo-liberal mayor and the city against this favela, as well as the struggle of the committed residents against being displaced. What makes his film different from the newspaper reports is that the inhabitants are individuals, humans with faces and stories, with a past in this village they call their home, although many things are not ideal, although the city forgets them when it comes to sewerage, electricity, and infrastructure. But now they are in the city’s focus: they are supposed to be relocated to bad new housing developments or receive minor compensation - the favela of the poor interferes with Olympic glamour.

The film takes time to get to know this village community that grows together in their fight for their living space. But it also gives the architects of the Olympic facilities a chance to speak. They have the vision of converting these facilities to schools later. It also gives Rio's mayor room to sketch his vision of a beautiful and rich Olympic town, in which no favelas will catch the eye of enthusiastic sports tourists.

But the real focus is always on the village inhabitants: impressive figures, humans embodying hope and strength. The captivating dramaturgy and the impressive end are worthy of a feature film screenwriter, who could not have done a better job.

Brigitte Häring