Danish filmmaker Andreas Johnsen has created the first documentary about Baile Funk: a remarkable form of music developed in the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro. For the millions of people residing in the favelas and periferia of Rio, Mr Catra is the biggest star of Baile Funk.
Backed by a massive sound inferno of peak-volume bass and beats, Mr Catra sings about life in the favelas, about the ongoing wars with other criminal gangs and the military police, about sex and about hope for the future. Baile Funk is programmed on cheap equipment with powerful impact. It cannibalizes the lo-bit-sound and simplistic beatprogramming of early electro and hip-hop, the bootyshaking crudeness of miami bass, the syncopated energy and melodic sensuality of brazilian samba, and combines it with harsh sounding, yet rhythmically refined portuguese raps.
Mr Catra’s lyrics are so explicit that the Brazilian police have coined the term Funk Proibido and have outlawed this particular genre of Baile Funk. According to Mr Catra, however, his music is only reflecting the reality of the favelas.
Mr Catra calls himself O Fiel, The Faithful, and he is indeed very faithful, in his own way, to God and to his facção, Comando Vermelho, the most powerful criminal organization in Brazil.
Mr Catra, 36 years of age, is no longer actively engaged in criminal activities. Instead, he leads a hectic family life with his “wives” (the mothers of his nine children), and a dozen steady girlfriends, all of whom he struggles to support through Baile Funk.
This film offers you an insight into a unique part of Rio de Janeiro that the official Brazilian society abstains from acknowledging. Poverty-ridden and druglord-controlled, the favelas, for the most part, are totally inaccessible to cameras. This film is the exception.
Filmed, produced and directed by: