Transform and FLUPP: Week Two

Apples and Snakes’ Programme Coordinator DanielaPaolucci travels to Brazil to take part in the incredible Literary Festival – FLUPP! Here is her account of week two in Rio.

Behind the scenes of FLUPP Festival

My second week in Rio de Janeiro has been very enriching and eye opening regarding the project itself and the people involved in it, directly or indirectly. It has shown me the shared passion and determination FLUPP has to make their dream come true.

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We meet with British Council representative in Rio, Lucimara Letelier, director Adjunta de Artes (deputy director of arts), who explains that FLUPP strategically supports the British Council‘s aims to make Brazilian literature recognised worldwide. This recognition creating mutual benefits in the increased exchange between British and Brazilian authors and publishers, socially bridging the gap between favela (see picture below) residents and the city, by focusing on the writing talents of the favela itself.

And then we hear from Toni Marques, curator for FLUPP, explaining how he has helped the two directors to shape and develop the curatorial thinking of the festival from the original idea as well as selecting the international authors participating in the festival.

 

What is fascinating and at the same time extraordinary, is the fact that FLUPP doesn’t have a proper structure yet, it is not a legal entity.
However thanks to the non stop work of the two directors who are constantly building new partnerships, the support network of organisations
and the people that share its mission and values (which are written down only in the mind and the heart of the people involved), FLUPP exists and is also recognised as a brand in itself.

Well known people such as Luiz Edoardo Soares, an anthropologist and public security expert, and Heloisa Buarque de Hollanda, Professor and coordinator of the “Programa Avançado de Cutura Contemporanea” at the Universidade das Quebradas, readily offer their support to the directors and work with them in developing the festival programme. I am impressed by the thinking behind this University’s course since it  is free, only offered to artists and cultural producers in the communities of Rio de Janeiro who have had no access to formal education, but who develop important work in the cultural arena.

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It is about giving a voice to people that do not usually have one and to stimulate encounters and dialogue with the academic community, as the two worlds, though complementary, still unknown to each other. FLUPP is almost a consequence of this course, since it uses the arts to change society.

I have continued to meet amazing people and amazing programmes of activities, such us the Mar’s (Museum de Arte do Rio) director cultural (cultural director), Paulo Herkenhoff.  He explains that the museum only opened a few months ago.It recognises art and education as the two pillars that support the formation of a critical and reflective community in Rio de Janeiro. It is a museum created to serve the entire community, and offers training and exhibitions that are related to the community in terms of their history or artefacts. The Director compared the museum to a sponge, ready to absorb everything that is related to the community it lives in.

I cannot cease to be amazed when I meet Walter Marcedo, Coordinador Artistico (artistic director), Arena Carioca Dicro‘ (cultural space in Rio’s favelas) as part of the work of the Observatorio de Favelas. This is an organisation that work directly with the public to observe, research and help the government to enhance the life in the favelas through creating the basis for a new social policy. Again I can see parallels with FLUPP, since their projects aim to end the divide between the city and the favelas, to show that the favelas are not a dangerous space and attract people to visit the favelas as much as any other place.

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It is clear how all these different realities become part of a unique project. But my last big surprise of the week, is the meeting with the entire FLUPP team to discuss the practicalities of the festival and then the visit to Vigario Geral, where the festival is going to be held this year.There are at least 20 people in this meeting, everyone with a different task allocated. No one has got a schedule with the exact time of when things are happening, except for the schedule of the festival activities.  There is no list of who is doing what and when, but everyone knows exactly what is happening and seems to have the situation completely under control. Everything is in their heads and everyone has got a “can do” and problem solving attitude. There is a real team spirit behind this festival and you can see how hard everyone is working towards its success. The FLUPP machine is just incredible.

 

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After the meeting,  we went with Julio and Toni to Vigário Geral. I was very curious to see the place before it gets transformed for the event , at the moment there is no stage or installations. Julio assures me that what I am going to witness will be pretty different from what I will see during the festival.  This favela has not got UPP in it, is not pacified yet, so the dealers are still there but thanks to the Afroreggae‘s work over 20 years in this site, their presence has facilitated the negotiation in order to run the festival here.

 

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When we arrive we are asked where we are going and allowed to pass. I am too busy looking around and greeting people that I fail to notice the guy with a rifle and the man with a gun, which instead I will notice on my way out. The local community welcome us very warmly and we spend a couple of hours chatting with them, being “escorted” to a local supermarket to buy something to drink and eat, and to meet the Graffiti artist who is starting to paint the walls of one of the local residents at their request. I had a great time together with the children: playing ( I was offered one of the boy’s bicycles to ride and managed not to fall off), talking about football (and being teased because I support Roma, a team no one has heard of so I must be a loser), taking their photos and them taking photos with me (soon there will be an exchange by email since they want to put them on their Facebook page) and being asked if I was a soap opera actress that they did not know of, and since I wasn’t, being offered to be in one when they grow up!

 

Holding a festival in a not yet pacified favela, is a huge challenge for FLUPP this year, (which has become the ‘Festa Literaria das Periferias’ –  ‘The Literature Festival of the Peripheries’, and not of UPP) as well as emphasising that the festival is about literature in general, with a special focus of the one produced in the outskirts of the city and how they link together. I feel extremely privileged to be here and to have been shown such openness behind the scenes of the preparation of this festival and I just cannot wait to see this magical event take shape in front of my eyes.

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 For more information about FLUPP Festival please visit the British Council website here