In "Ballet and Bullets: Dancing out of the Favela," Frederick Bernas and Rayan Hindi document the story of Na Ponta dos Pés, a ballet group caught in the middle of daily confrontations between Rio de Janeiro's favela gangs. The short documentary screens on Friday September 6, 2019, at the Zeitgeist Theatre & Lounge as part of the NOLA Critical Edge Film & Live Art Festival.
The session on the festival's opening night brings together "Ballet and Bullets" with other short films and performance experiments that explore how human relationships inspire social change.
Bernas and Hindi's Pulitzer Center-supported reporting project, "Favela Ballet," shares stories of these dancers determined to make room for themselves in a community that has pushed them to the margins. With an average 20 incidents of weapons fired every day in Rio, last year saw more than 100 police deaths, as well as hundreds more civilians, many of whom are caught in the crossfire of confrontations in their local areas.
The Alemão favela complex is known for its daily gun violence resulting from gang turf wars and frequent police intervention. The favela's estimated 120,000 residents have been forced into a life where fear is abundant and resources are scarce.
The dance group has been pushing for a community center to help save youth from everyday violence through art, dance and discipline. This film is about the power of culture to instill hope, and about how art can transform reality—even in the most marginalized places.