BEN HOLMAN

FILM MAKER BASED IN LONDON AND RIO DE JANEIRO

THE GOOD FIGHT (A vida é uma luta) - WINNER OF TRIBECA 2017 "BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT" COMPETITION

TO FIND OUT MORE AND HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT ALAN AND ABRAÇO CAMPEAO PLEASE VIST HIS CROWD FUNDING PAGE HERE

SYNOPSIS

Alan Duarte was born and lives in the notorious favela community of Complexo do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro. The community is largely abandoned by the state and lacks many essential facilities, such as basic sanitation and endures shootouts between police, armed drug traffickers and rival factions on a daily basis.

Alan’s family has been deeply affected by the ever present conflict in the community and he has now lost ten close family members to gun violence (including one twelve year old cousin since this film was made). However, Alan tried to define a different future for himself and he found salvation and hope through boxing.

But, after losing his brother, he decided that his own salvation wasn’t enough and so he began his own boxing gym “Abraço Campeão” (Embracing Champions) to try and save others and build a brighter future for his son and the whole community. 

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

“The Good Fight” was a personal project that I felt utterly compelled to make.

My relationship with Alan and with Brazil began properly 12 years ago. I had just begun living
in Rio and as a keen amateur boxer, I had got involved with the NGO “Fight for Peace” that was based in the notorious favela community of Maré. It’s an amazing project that is now global which combines boxing and martial arts with education and personal development to realise the potential of young people in communities affected by crime, violence and social exclusion. 

I initially just wanted somewhere to go boxing but their reception was so warm that my association became much deeper and the community there soon became my surrogate family and roots in Brazil. As well as ghting for them, I also made their lms and my colleagues became my friends. They were ultimately the reason I stayed in Brazil. I was touched by the passion there, their patience with my Portuguese and empowered personally by the many stories of personal victories against incredible odds. 

Alan found the same boxing gym around the time that I did and was one of the inspirational and eloquent young people that managed to find a different path in life to that of many of his peers. 

After losing 9 members of his own family to the violence associated with drug trafficking and ultimately his own brother, Alan decided to start his own project “Abraço Campeão” (Embracing Champions) in the nearby favela where he lived. Without any financial support, I was deeply impressed by what he managed to build. It was a beautiful project in its own right, with a genuinely family feel and where I have loved boxing myself, as has my young son on the occasions I have taken him. So when Alan asked me to make an institutional lm for them I readily agreed.

I imagined a couple of days filming and relatively simple edit, however, once I listened to his full story and saw his vision, I knew I wanted to do something more for him. He was investing his own time and money to build something he believed in and he made me want to do the same. So I took my friend Nye Jones, another Englishman in Rio, with a love of boxing and a very talented lm maker, to meet Alan. After one boxing session he was just as keen to tell Alan’s story as I was, so we began filming.

The favelas of Rio de Janeiro, are always a challenging place to film. There was armed conflict on an almost daily basis between the various armed factions. Filming was often interrupted or cancelled because of the shootouts and we were often told to stop filming in certain areas. On a couple of occasions we even had guns pointed at us. However, this was nothing compared to what the residents who live there every day deal with and in general all the various groups were respectful, partly because of the high esteem in which Alan and his work is held in the community. 

I have heard many stories similar to that of Alan and indeed made films about some of them. However, his story touched me in a way that I hadn’t felt for some time. There was something so amazing in his attitude, his purity of spirit and how he had managed to take such an ugly situation and turn it into something so beautiful. Although he lets his guard slip very occasionally to me, he always goes about his incredibly demanding days with a smile on his face. This was also an inspiration for the film making process. Like Alan, we had limited resources, but we dedicated large amounts of time and energy into trying to make something special and to give him the film he deserved.

Since the making of the film, the project “Embracing Champions” has grown further and now offers boxing, kick boxing, personal development classes and soon educational classes. Alan has also built a gym from the old changing rooms so they can now train inside during rain and gun fire. They currently have 100 young people subscribed and have registered as an official NGO. Aside from a couple of modest donations for materials, they have done all this without any salaries, solely relying on volunteers. I’m hoping that my film can bring them some much needed funding and recognition to the work they are doing.

Although this film addresses some serious problems that are only getting worse in Brazil right now, it is also a love song to a special, beautiful side of Brazil and especially Rio, that I feel people rarely see portrayed in this way. I hope that this project will help people to see favela communities in a different way. The perseverance and warmth of some of my friends there in the most difficult circumstances is something that never fails to inspire me and something that deserves both recognition and celebration. 

TO FIND OUT MORE AND HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT ALAN AND ABRAÇO CAMPEAO PLEASE VIST HIS CROWD FUNDING PAGE HERE

 

BEIJA FILMS in association with MOTHER LONDON presents

A Film by BEN HOLMAN and NEIRIN JONES about ALAN DUARTE and ABRAÇO CAMPEÃO

Directed and Produced by Ben Holman
Director of Photography - Neirin Jones
Original Music - Maga Bo, Ben Lamar Gay, MC Cidinho
Editor - Ben Holman
Grade - Richard Fearon at MPC
Sound Design - Scramble
Additional Sound Design - Sounds and Sons
Graphic Design - Marcos Gemal at Mother London
Executive Producer - Hermeti Balarin