The documentary Dirty Games: Olympic Evictions in Rio de Janeiro follows residents in Vila Autódromo, a neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro that was decimated as the city prepared to host the 2016 Olympics. The film explores what it was like to live in Vila Autódromo as houses were demolished, how residents remember life there prior to the evictions, and how they mobilised to preserve their neighbourhood. Working together with local and international activists, journalists, researchers and filmmakers, the residents succeeded in catapulting their struggle to remain in Vila Autódromo onto the world stage. The film also examines the context for these events; the Olympics as a vehicle for urban development, corruption, inequality and global trends prioritising profit rather than human needs in the use of land. The most important question explored in the film, however, is why the resistance to leave Vila Autódromo was so strong. What is lost when people's homes and neighbourhoods are destroyed?
Dirty Games: Olympic Evictions in Rio de Janeiro is part of the research project Trust as a Precondition for Socio-Economic Development: What can We Learn from the Case of Brazil?, financed by the Research Council of Norway's SAMKUL programme (Cultural conditions underlying social change). The documentary is co-directed by José Alejandro Huidobro Goya and Margit Ystanes.
The aim of this project is to produce the anthropological film #sosfavelas: Activism, Inequality and Security in the Olympic city of Rio de Janeiro. It grows out of the SAMKUL funded project Trust as a precondition for socio-economic development- what can we learn from the case of Brazil?
The SAMKUL project explores the relationship between trust, inequality and economic growth. Trust is often taken to be a prerequisite for economic growth, yet, some inequality is usually considered necessary for motivating investment and hard work. It is nevertheless also widely assumed that inequality and power differences make trust impossible. Exploring the resistance to the urban and economic development envisioned within the mega-event framework provides a lens through which this awkward relationship can be untangled. Mega-events are not merely sporting competitions, but are considered vehicles for economic growth and urban development. They therefore become sites of struggle over societal developments well beyond the events themselves.
The hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 will serve as a lens for exploring the cultural conditions for Brazil's economic growth and inequality reduction efforts. The film will follow community journalists/activists in one of the city's largest informal neighbourhoods (favelas). It will focus on the lives of collective members and their use of social media to disseminate information and protest violence and injustice brought about by the preparations for Rio's mega-events.
The film will be part of the publication and dissemination activities of the SAMKUL project. Its overall purpose is to disseminate results from this project to a wider audience. The main questions it addresses are: How do people in Rio's favelas respond to the hosting of sporting mega-events in their city? And what can these responses tell us about the societal conditions for social and economic development in the Brazilian context?