Alagoas, Brazil, August 2021 - “A camera in your hand and an idea in your head.” The phrase by famous Brazilian filmmaker Glauber Rocha summarises the essence of the documentary “Visão das Grotas” (“A View from the Grotas”) which has just been released with UN-Habitat support.

The film was produced by nine young residents of grotas, informal settlements located in narrow, steep ravines in the capital of Alagoas – a state in Brazil’s northeast with the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) in the country. The group registered images and testimonies to portray a local perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic impact in their communities.

The Emergency Project is part of a larger initiative led by UN-Habitat Brazil in partnership with the government of Alagoas to promote sustainable urban development. Since 2017, they have worked together to gather data and information on the most vulnerable territories in the state’s capital, contributing to the development of evidence-based public policies.

With this initiative, UN-Habitat Brazil is looking to disseminate these young people’s vision beyond their communities and to help transform their potential into concrete change. Watch the film here (English subtitles available).

I had never participated in a project like this before, which focused on the community where I live. It brought everyone a new view of the place where I live, myself included,” said Rafaela Oliveira, 23, resident from the grota and the documentary’s co-director.

For two months, remote communication workshops empowered the youngsters to portray the local impacts, perceptions and testimonies on the pandemic, while presenting their perspectives for a better urban future after COVID-19.

The film has won two awards in the Brazilian Film Festival Mostra Sururu: Best Performance and the Popular Juri Prize. The achievement not only amplified the voices of the region’s young residents, but also helps build their  skills.