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Favela Rising
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Life in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro has long been dominated by powerful drug gangs and corrupt cops. But Banda AfroReggae—part rock band, part community movement—wants to tell a different story, and give favela youth a different option. Co-founder Anderson Sa tells the group's uplifting story.
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Learn more about the work of AfroReggae.

Purchase the DVD of Favela Rising here.

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Segment 1

TITLE
Sidetrack Films and Voy Pictures present a film by Jeff Zimbalist, Matt Mochary
ANDERSON SA
My first memory of seeing violence: I was with my mom at a neighborhood bar, across the street from a spot where they sold cocaine. I was about 10 years old, and the dealers caught this guy that didn't pay for some drugs, or maybe he was an undercover cop, and they started beating him silly in the street. Residents were walking by like everything was normal. My mom covered my eyes, but I could still see through the gap between her fingers. The dealer was standing over this guy and shooting him many times in the head like trrraw. I remember all this stuff flying out of the back of his head, but I didn't cry. I just calmly watched and thought. I was thinking, "I'm not afraid of dying."
TITLE
Between the years of 1987 and 2001, 467 minors were murdered in Israel and Palestine combined. During that same time, 3,937 minors were murdered in one city in Brazil.
ANDERSON SA
For many decades, the government has ignored the slums. The government has never thought of improving the lives of the people living in the slums, living in the hills. The slums have forever been stagnant, paralyzed. It's as if the spinal cord of the favela has always been broken.
TITLE
Favela Rising
TITLE
Favela (f a ve'la) n. in Brazil, an urban slum or ghetto; illegal squatter settlement
ANDERSON SA
I was born and raised here. This is the community of Vigario Geral. Of Rio's over 600 favelas, this is considered the Brazilian Bosnia. Instead of falling asleep with our mothers singing to us, we fell asleep to gunshots and people screaming, the sounds of violence. It took me a long time to understand all this. The problems of childhood stay with you the rest of your life. When I was a boy, I often dreamt that I would become a revolutionary drug lord, and I would lead the favelas towards a better life.
ANDERSON SA
My name is Anderson Sa, and I was educated on the street. We used to play "Cops and Robbers." No one ever wanted to be the cops. We pretended our names were the same as the drug dealers' names. We carved machine guns out of wood, and we ran around pretending we were killing each other. I came from a crew of 17 friends. Seven are dead. Five are in jail. I got involved with the crime organization indirectly. I buried weapons, packaged drugs, little favors here and there. I would witness tortures, murders. I was hanging out with criminals.
VOICES
I sell weed and powder. / If I didn't work here, I wouldn't work at all. / I use the money to buy clothes and sandals. / I've robbed and killed. / The boss tells me to kill, so I kill for him. / And I'll eventually die for being what I am.
INTERVIEWER
What's the average age of death for drug soldiers?
ANDERSON SA
Fourteen to 25 years old.
BOY
We all kiss their asses. We're like, "Oh shit, what cool guns." All the teenage girls chase the guys that have machine guns. They want to be with these guys, to be respected in here. They have nice motorcycles, so the girls are called "Maria Gasolina." They don't pay any attention to us. That's why I'm getting a motorcycle now, to get some girls. They make about USD$650/week.
TITLE
Average salary for a Black Brazilian Adult: USD$13/week.
BOY
Everybody likes that job. The outlaws skin people, man, slice the guy's skin off his body.
INTERVIEWER
While he's alive?
BOY
Yep, while he's alive. I will cut your finger off so you can't point. I'm going to cut your tongue out so that you don't go telling things.
INTERVIEWER
Are you sure this is okay? What if there's someone who hears you now?
BOY
It's okay. I'm just explaining.
INTERVIEWER
I get worried about you and me.
BOY
This is no problem. But, if we used a camera to actually film them up there, that'd be a very serious mistake.
TITLE
Name unknown, 16 years old.
ANDERSON SA
It's prejudice. Favela residents are excluded because of our zip code. People think everyone in the favela is involved with trafficking, but the majority are honest people who just want to work and live peacefully.

Segment 2

ANDERSON SA
My favela here is one drug faction. Past these roofs is a rival faction. No one's allowed to cross into a rival drug lord's favela.
MAN
Not even regular favela residents?
ANDERSON SA
People have family in other favelas. They meet outside the ghettos, in a neutral place.
JB [Former drug lord, Red Command Cartel]
Vigario Geral was the headquarters of the Red Command cartel. Every drug lord lived here. All the meetings were here. I was a drug dealer here. We were so strong, we robbed and kidnapped during the day. That was through the early '90s. Then came The Massacre. I was at the plaza that day, hanging out with friends. This one police chief used to badger and beat people to extort money. Our drug lord was fed up with this guy because everyone was afraid of him, and I remember it as if it was yesterday. The policeman's car rolled past the church and down into the plaza. The next second, I saw our van slowly driving towards the police car. The police car had its four windows open. My drug lord came out of the van alone and executed all four police. I watched it happen.
ZUENIR VENTURA [Author and Journalist]
It was August 1993. The favela Vigario Geral, with a population of 30,000 residents, was invaded by an infamous division of the military police. They entered houses and randomly murdered many people. They were avenging deaths of four police killed by outlaws earlier that week. Except, of the 21 people they murdered, not one was connected to drug trafficking. They were absolutely innocent people. This image became the anti-postcard of Rio de Janeiro, instead of the Christ statue or the women on the beach.
JB
It's the worst thing I've ever seen, all those corpses laid out in a line. That image is tattooed in all of our minds forever.
ANDERSON SA
It was after 11 at night. I was in front of my house. "Rambo" was on TV. The police entered and started shooting anyone on the street. They killed one guy going to work, carrying his meal. Another guy walked by. They killed him, too. They went into a house and killed a family of eight Evangelists. They killed a 15-year-old girl, a 65-year-old man, and the woman was 70. If I had known at the time who the guys were that did this, I would have found them and killed them. No remorse at all in shooting them, honestly. There was serious suffering and serious rage.
ANDERSON'S GODMOTHER
Anderson lost his brother in the massacre. I was afraid the pain would push him deeper into the drug army to seek revenge.
ANDERSON SA
When the shooting started, I had gone inside my house. Then this woman came to us, screaming for my mother. "Something terrible has happened." She brought us to him, and there he was, dead, laying on the floor of the bar amongst other bodies. Even when people have done serious wrong, it's terrible to see them like that. Imagine when it's a family member, and he's innocent. Imagine. The police had checked everyone's papers then threw a grenade and killed everyone at the bar. I started to ask why we wanted to kill each other, why such hatred? Think how to stop violence. Think. I was just figuring things out and discovering without a plan, hope it'll come naturally, got nothing calculated. How do I end violence?
ANDERSON'S GODMOTHER
I didn't realize how evolved he was at that young age. There was no reason for him not to stay with the drug army, but he didn't think it was right, and he got out. He chose another path, thank God. I am proud of him. It's a great honor to be his godmother.
ANDERSON SA
Amidst the turbulence, the massacre, my connection to the cartel, I started to think of a better life. My parents were worried about me. They didn't want me on that path. I had clothes, food on the table, things other kids lacked. Somehow, I had to fight for something better, give back to my people for all they'd done for me. This is how it started to happen. There was this guy, Junior, who I always admired for his leadership. Junior didn't believe in lost causes. Junior looked for the people that nobody wanted, the most delinquent, and he worked with them, transformed them, like a warrior. "Why not do it? Who says you can't?" He has no barriers. He breaks them all.
JOSE JUNIOR [Executive Coordinator, Grupo AfroReggae]
I first met Anderson in a time of terrible adversity. Anderson's from a generation where all of his friends were dead. Similarly for me. If I hadn't lost so many friends, if I didn't have so much suffering in my youth, I wouldn't be doing what I do. We're a group of destroyed people infected by idealism. Our lives all sucked before AfroReggae, but that moment when we formed the group changed everything. It's a Shiva effect. Shiva is the goddess of destruction and transformation. We are a Shiva effect.
ALTAIR MARTINS [Grupo AfroReggae member]
Our group believes strongly in "the Shiva effect." First, the God Shiva creates the chaos in order that he can then rise as a Phoenix from the ashes. That was us.

Segment 3

ZUENIR VENTURA
When I went to Vigario Geral to research for my book, that first day, I met the group of kids who became Grupo AfroReggae. It wasn't a movement yet. They had just a little newspaper then. But they intended to not seek revenge for the massacre. Rather, they sought to call society's attention to the reality they were living.
JOSE JUNIOR
We didn't have any idea what an NGO or social movement was, but we knew the Afro-Brazilian culture was under-represented, so we created the AfroReggae News. The graphics and printing services had to be donated by good will, so we were always waiting at the end of a long line. It was a blow to our self-esteem. People left the group because we didn't have any money. We couldn't even support ourselves, just to stay alive.
ANDERSON SA
One day, I was caught up in sadness about the massacre. I had a fight with my girlfriend, my sister, my mom, and I wasn't doing well at work. I went home and wrote a song called "To Bolado" [I'm Overwhelmed]. "I'm from Vigario. I love my community, but I'm pissed off." So I started to think about using music as an instrument of change. Ask yourself how to stop violence; culture is a vehicle. How do I use music as an instrument of change? Because through music, you can reach everyone. That's how we did it. It was tough to start the program, but, eventually, we were able to borrow enough instruments. Each week, we'd bring the instruments to Vigario, and a volunteer would come to the favela to teach percussion to us, and it was through music that we appeared. Through music, we changed our reality. And from those percussion workshops, we formed the band and called it AfroReggae.
TITLE
Banda AfroReggae school benefit concert
MEN
One, two three - AfroReggae!
ANDERSON SA [Singing]
Twenty-one workers assassinated by the police. Our people killed by the luck of the draw. Hatred breeds violence. I've had enough. Yet my pride still resides in Vigario. I love my community. But I'm pissed off.
ANDERSON SA
Young people who live in these hills, what they need is a positive reference, a nonviolent, black role model. It's the favela's choice, because the favela kid can have options. He just isn't given access to information about culture.
JOSE JUNIOR
Sadly, what attracts a kid to crime is clothes, status, lack of opportunities. The lack of any structured groups for them to join. Youth feel the need to be involved in a collective identity, and, in the favelas, the only such group is the narco-trafficking organization.
TITLE
Grupo AfroReggae Youth Percussion Program
ANDERSON SA
Today, I'll show you something new. We'll get the big drums kickin' in, and then we'll do rhythm exercises to get a sense of the division. This is how we'll start. That's it. Let's work it out. Then we'll work some rhythms within it. Let me do it first. Then copy me. Right here. Right here! In all the groups, bands, and programs that we coordinate, no one is allowed to drink, smoke, or do any drugs. These are the rules for all of our participants.

Segment 4

ANDERSON SA
For every kid AfroReggae attracted to our percussion class, five were waiting to join the drug army. We were happy just to have that one kid, yet….
JB
After the massacre, there were riots, and the police kept killing.
ZUENIR VENTURA
In the mid 1990s, things continued to turn for the worse. The police and the drug armies expanded the scale of their activity.
TITLE
Military Police Boot Camp, outskirts of Rio de Janeiro
ANDRE LUIS AZEVEDO [Investigative Journalist]
This is the elite, specialized troop of Rio police. They go up the hill into the favelas in times of conflict. They dress in black, like most urban SWAT teams, and they are trained in specific techniques of guerilla warfare. Rio de Janeiro police, especially those who work in the favelas, have become extremely corrupt. Police are the real beneficiaries of narcotics trafficking. Drug lords sell, and they make money, but you never see the millionaire drug lord, and in the favela, everyone is miserably poor. So where does all the real drug money go? It goes to the police. Who sells the guns to the favela armies? Policemen. Who delivers the drugs? We know police are always the middlemen. Police corruption may be the cause of all the lack of control in the favelas.
MAN [Policeman]
This man we found is one of their soldiers. He was up there in their war zone.
MAN [Policeman]
This one is marijuana, and that one is cocaine.
JOSE JUNIOR
A member of AfroReggae named Paulo Negueba was shot in the legs by the military police. He was on his way to work and the police mistook him for an outlaw. It was a time when we were extremely angry at the State. We can't wait for the government because they have no control. Yet we know that, to fully reverse our predicament, we'd need support from the private sector, civil society, and the media.
ANDERSON SA
AfroReggae realized that nothing could be left up to outside authorities. If we keep talking in the third person, judging other parties, then we're going nowhere.
ZUENIR VENTURA
It was the beginning of a new consciousness, that the solution exists in the participation of each individual.
JOSE JUNIOR
We mobilized like crazy. The first thing we did was make our own video showing random acts of police brutality to the rest of Rio.
TITLE
In 1997 and 1998 combined, Rio's military police killed 699 people. Sixty-one percent were executed at point-blank range. Almost all were favela citizens.
JOSE JUNIOR
There must be some police presence, but their presence needs to be dramatically more civil, more humane. Our police are undertrained, extremely underpaid, and, of all the jobs in Brazil, they are the victims of the most prejudice.
ANDERSON SA
I have this peacefulness at times that even impresses me. My fiancee is like, "The world can be falling apart and all is wrong, and you're always just calm, convinced things'll get better."
MICHELE MORAES [Anderson's Fiancee]
I first met Anderson at the bus stop here in Vigario Geral. We had similar work schedules and always took the same buses. Our first kiss was inside the bus. We started "dating," as they say, and we've been together for over eight years now. If everything goes alright, we'll be married beginning of the year, but I'm very afraid of the violence, of dying, afraid of how I'll die. That's really what it is: how you die. Could get caught in crossfire on the street. Could be a stray bullet while you're at work. Middle of the night, during the day, we're always in danger here. It seems like Anderson doesn't fear violence.
ANDERSON SA
At the same time that I don't let the violence affect me, loss really gets to me. Alone in my room, listening to music, I cry often. Remembering our crew, my good friends, our time together. I wish they could be here now, to see how I've changed, to see I'm a different person.
JB
I first admired AfroReggae when they started giving those free concerts in the favela. Then I saw AfroReggae was also doing all that positive work with young people. I saw the power their group had in the favela and particularly in the eyes of my drug army. They get respect. I think God writes wise words in crude penmanship. I recruit dealers to AfroReggae now. I go up to a guy with his gun out and tell him to change his life. To them, I'm an example of a guy who got out.
ANDERSON SA
We have many examples of people like JB in AfroReggae now. Like the other day, JB and I went to a funk party in the favela, and this very ironic thing happened, because a drug lord came up to us and thanked us for what we do. The drug lord told us that his younger brother had joined AfroReggae, and this drug lord said he knew that his little brother would have a better life now and would stay out of crime. All that we do is directly against everything that the drug army is, and our mission is to take youth out of the drug army, yet this drug lord thanked us for the work we're doing.

Segment 5

TITLE
In 1997, a prominent U.S. foundation awarded Grupo AfroReggae a multi-year project grant.
ANDERSON SA
We have 13 groups in Vigario now.
BOY [Member, Grupo AfroReggae]
Before AfroReggae, I was going to become a drug soldier. When I entered AfroReggae, everything changed.
TITLE
On April 21, 1997, AfroReggae lost its first member.
TITLE
Bigu Alves was shot dead in the street.
JOSE JUNIOR
People want to express their anger about these things, but they could be killed if they say anything. Fear controls these people. After Bigu's murder, we started to take more risks. We began speaking out about the drug wars.
TITLE
Plaza of Vigario Geral
ANDERSON SA [Singing]
An outlaw up in here gettin' beat in our streets for his naked little woman. A gunshot and people scatter. Both cartels got beef with the other. But I got a hammer in one hand, pencil in the other. I'm another one who's made the great escape. Rio's explosion has arrived to stay. The new face of the people's culture, and it's all going to change. We're legitimately on magazine covers, newspaper spreads. We are AfroReggae from Vigario Geral.
SIGN
Vigario Geral demands justice.
ANDERSON SA
What are you up to, man, studying?
MURILIO
Studying sucks. Because we don't do shit in school.
ANDERSON SA
To be someone, you gotta study. What's your name?
MURILIO
My name's Richard.
BOY
Liar. His name's Murilio.
MURILIO
You gonna believe him or me, man?
ANDERSON SA
Murilio, why don't you say your real name, man? You think I'm gonna tell on you? I'm from the favela, too, from Vigario. What do you want to be when you grow up?
MURILIO
An outlaw.
ANDERSON SA
What are you talking about? Why not be a worker and avoid the suffering? Drug dealers die young.
MURILIO
I'd rather be in prison than die.
BOY
Six outlaws just died in Vigario.
ANDERSON SA
They die every day. It's no good being an outlaw. I know how it is. You'll have money, clothes, all that, but name one outlaw who's 50 years old. They're all dead. You have to work, Richard Murilio, to feel good, to buy yourself an honest gold necklace.
MURILIO
The necklace I'm wearing, I stole.
ANDERSON SA
Oh, yeah? Come steal my watch then, huh?
MURILIO
I can't. You're from the favela.
ANDERSON SA
You're no thief. You're no outlaw. You're a good kid. But you gotta study or practice sports or learn something cultural.
MURILIO
I'm gonna be an outlaw.
ANDERSON SA
Don't believe the bullshit, man. You're no outlaw, Richard Murilio.
ANDERSON SA
We want residents to see AfroReggae leaders can cross favela borders freely, and we're able to support ourselves, doing dignified work for a living.
MICHELE MORALES
The other day there was a fight between drug factions, and everyone came to Anderson because the cartel took someone's nephew or whatever. He's like a voice for the community. But he wants so much to help people that he forgets the use caution. If he keeps this up, living so publicly, someone's going to take advantage of him. Like the people asking his help the other day. How does he know those weren't bad people? It really worries me, how he'll do anything to save the world, without protecting his own survival. It pains me to talk about it.
WOMAN
Well, he's the man of your life ...
MICHELE MORALES
Yeah. And I'm very proud of him.
ANDERSON SA
I have a recurring dream that I'm falling. The drop is bottomless, endlessly falling and falling ... until I fall off my bed, and I wake up. Then, at three or four in the morning, I go to the beach. I go to surf. Don't need the tan. I always thought surfing looked cool on television. So I started surfing, alone. It's an escape for me. I forget everything, all the problems of life, and fully relax. Meditating on one solitary thing, waiting for the right wave. And, by 5 am, I'm back in the favela.

Segment 6

ANDERSON SA
The city government wants us to expand to 20 more favelas, but movement has to come from the community itself. In other slums, we'd be applying our solutions to their problems. If we become McDonald's, putting one everywhere, we've lost the essence. It only works when residents themselves know what they want. Outsiders come into the favela wanting to implement this or that. Do they know that's what the people want? What if a kid wants to learn how to make and sell paper for profit. Sometimes he doesn't want dance workshops or martial arts class. Maybe he wants to do ... hair. He wants to be a hairdresser. Plus, Rio has over 600 favelas.
MAN
So you're not going to expand the movement?
ANDERSON SA
We are. But we intend to attract the leaders of each favela, people who already have some mobility in their community, and pass on to them the history and objective of AfroReggae's work. Hopefully our methodology will be applicable in their favelas.
ZUENIR VENTURA
The favela is starting to show itself differently to the outside. They're saying, "We don't just create violence like the papers report. We create music and art. We are capable of creating our own cultural universe.
TITLE
In February of 2001, Universal Music signed Banda AfroReggae to an international record deal. AfroReggae vowed to put the earnings back into their programs.
ANDERSON SA
With the city government of Rio, we started "Urban Connections," a project to bring concerts to other favelas with the same production quality as the big shows they have in Copacabana and the rich areas. Twenty- to fifty-thousand favela residents will come to these shows, because it's empowering to have this offered right in front of our homes.
TITLE
Favela: Complexo Da Penha; Population: 80,000; Cartel: Red Command
ANDERSON SA
The thing I fear most is paralysis. Immobility. But I don't like to speak negatively. I have this paranoia that when you think negative things, they happen. When I have a negative thought, I reach my hand into my head and throw it out. Immobility ...
JOSE JUNIOR
I was at a meeting outside of town when we found out that the war between Vigario Geral and the rival favela named Lucas had just reignited after a 20-year ceasefire.
WOMAN
I'm not going.
ANDERSON SA
It was Friday when the drug army from Lucas invaded Vigario Geral. I got in the middle of it all to mediate as a voice for the community, to do what I could to help prevent more innocent people from dying, because the residents were protecting the drug armies. Residents should not be coerced into a cartel war. Some of the Lucas residents who were there returned to Lucas, saying I had chased them out of Vigario with a gun in one hand, AfroReggae T-shirt in the other.
JOSE JUNIOR
They invented a huge lie. They said Anderson had a rifle and a handgun. They said he raped a girl and that he was holding 20 hostages from Lucas. As absurd as it sounds, over in Lucas they believed it. Hours later, over 200 people showed up from Lucas to lynch Anderson.
ANDERSON SA
We were at the community center. And everyone was yelling, "They're coming to kill you, Anderson. Let's get the fuck out of here." I said, "I'm not leaving, because if I leave they'll think I'm guilty. I won't admit to anything because I haven't done anything. I'm going to stay and try to talk with them. Go if you're going ..." They all said, "Then we're staying too."
JOSE JUNIOR
I was driving there to die with them because I couldn't live without them. So we could all die together. It was Anderson, Altair, Vitor, Dada, Sandro, Leandro, and Samuel. They called me and I could hear all the yelling through my cell phone. All I heard was chaos.
ANDERSON SA
In the moment I found the strength to yell, "We are neutral. We are neither Red Command nor Third Command. We're just a loud voice in the community." We stood up to them in a way they're not used to.
JOSE JUNIOR
By the time I arrived the chaos had cleared. And they were all sitting there laughing.
ANDERSON SA
A drug lord from Lucas who respected us had convinced the mob to listen. He said, "Let's hear what AfroReggae has to say and evaluate the situation." He said, "It's interesting that you're still here and didn't run away." If it wasn't for the Lucas drug lord, the mob would have tortured us, stoned and beaten us to death.
JOSE JUNIOR
We've already made a name for ourselves. Why take these risks? Because as long as we reside in a war zone, our ideology won't allow us to live passively, in comfort. We have no choice but to join the combat, to fight. We go to war to demand peace.
ANDERSON SA [Singing]
Even if justice delays, it never fails. All of you know this. Within music and culture, a new movement exists. It's the movement that fights for peace.
JOSE JUNIOR
If you compare the Vigario of today with how it used to be, there's much less suffering, there are fewer homicides, more job opportunities. But the most important change of all is that now, for the first time, Vigario is a place of hope.
ANDERSON'S GODMOTHER
These days, many more of us are behind Anderson. The people follow him. We want to learn from the things he says because it's rare to find a responsible black man with dignity like that. The drug dealers used to eat at my home cafe, but I didn't like them around. One day they came and said, "We're here to eat." I said, "I'm sorry. AfroReggae supports me and I won't serve you." That was a huge moment in this favela, to be free to refuse to serve them.
TITLE
When AfroReggae began in 1993, there were over 150 drug soldiers in Vigario.
ANDERSON SA
Families, please focus our children on their culture, on education, so our youth aren't lured into organized crime.
TITLE
By 2004, the number of drug soldiers had fallen to less than 25.
ANDERSON SA
The only time people mention your favela is to talk about the violence here. But we know this is also home to peace-loving, hard-working people.
TITLE
And the AfroReggae movement had expanded to nine favelas with over 2,000 participants.
ANDERSON SA
We need to quit the mindset of this side versus that side, slum against slum. Because we're all from the favela, right?

Segment 7

JOSE JUNIOR
I was exactly here, in this office, when a band member called and told me, "Look, I think Anderson suffered a major accident." He said, "He was surfing and cracked his head on a rock."
ANDERSON'S MOTHER
He was trapped by a wave and knocked unconscious. He's stopped breathing and was just floating in the waves. His friend dragged him to shore and called an ambulance. At the hospital I saw a crowd at the door and I thought my son was dead.
DR. NIEMEYER
He broke his fourth vertebra and was instantly quadriplegic. It is an extremely severe injury. Rarely can this type of paralysis be reversed.
JOSE JUNIOR
We told the doctor, "We don't have any personal money, but we can't just let Anderson be paralyzed. This is priceless." And then Dr. Niemeyer called me and he already knew about AfroReggae, he knew what Anderson represents for so many people, and he said, "Don't worry about money. I won't charge you."
DR. NIEMEYER
Those who can pay, pay. And those who can't pay, don't. Those are the doctor's politics my father passed down to me. We have to help everyone. We all pay for each other.
JOSE JUNIOR
But Dr. Niemeyer, who's been doing this surgery for many years, warned us that he can count on his fingers the number of patients who were ever able to walk again.
ANDERSON SA
I don't know if this was supposed to have happened. I was always afraid of something like this. To be paralyzed. To be unable to move.
MICHELE MORALES
He said that if he has to be paralyzed forever, then he'd rather die. He says he'll ask the doctor to give him something to ... He thinks it'd be easier to die.
JOSE JUNIOR
We are thinking about stopping AfroReggae. Because Anderson's the face of the institution, and the band. How could it go on without him? The whole world is waiting. We've all cried so much. The youth are all praying every day for him. No one told them to do it. They are just honestly praying.
ALTAIR MARTINS
The night before surgery, after visiting hours, we snuck behind security through the back way to Anderson's ward. We found him crying by himself. He talked to us and said that he was feeling real bad. The craziest thing: While we were talking this old lady appeared. I looked at the door and there she was, walking straight towards us. She stopped by Anderson's side and said, "I've never met this man before, but a god has asked me to come and talk to him. This god that has guided me here to talk to you, he is the god that moves the sea ..." When she said "moves the sea," our hair raised. She told Anderson that the god of the sea would give him the victory sooner than any of us could ever imagine. Today, when Anderson asked me to find a T-shirt for him to wear home, I took the top shirt from his bag. Guess what shirt it was…
VOICE
Shiva.
ALTAIR MARTINS
Yep. Shiva.
TITLE
Anderson's release from hospital, four days after surgery
ALTAIR MARTINS
Do you want to go in the wheelchair or do you want to walk?
ANDERSON SA
In the chair is fine. It doesn't matter.
ALTAIR MARTINS
No one knows but you. Do you want to walk? You wanna be cool about it and walk out like you're a miracle?
ANDERSON SA
I want to be a miracle.
DR. NIEMEYER
He is an exception. He needs to thank every day, because it is extremely rare for a quadriplegic patient to recover.
ANDERSON SA
It was on the second day after the surgery. The doctor sat next to me and told me to try to stand. I thought he was joking, but he said, "It's okay. Let's try it." He wasn't so confident himself that I would be able to do it. I started to lift my head and chest. I wanted to sit up and I did. I felt the greatest happiness.
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Junior's home
ALTAIR MARTINS
This is his ultimate test. To rise above and continue moving the slums forward.
JOSE JUNIOR
I have to give him strength, so today I made a deal with him: "Each day will be the Olympics. Each day is a record to be broken. You'll have to work through the pain.
ANDERSON SA
Little things have a lot of importance now, like the way I sleep. Any small movement that I do with my hands becomes important. I am a warrior of the people. I will be there again, making things happen.
JOSE JUNIOR
What we create and destroy doesn't end with me or with Anderson. It is passed through the generations. All life is a karmic process. Our actions will be infinite.
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10 months later
ANDERSON SA
This thing I was most afraid of. Paralysis. Immobility. I think the favelas can relate. They've been through this pain. It's as if the spinal cord of the favela has always been broken.
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In March of 2004, 10 months after the surgery, Anderson performed again, for the first time since his accident.
ANDERSON SA
Now all the favelas must start to move for the first time. We must all begin to show that we are able. That we can lift our own arms, that we can raise our heads. Now it's back to work.
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[end credits]