“Until lions write their own story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”. -Igbo Proverb.
For many years our stories as Africans have been told for us. Misconstrued versions of events given to suppress the truth. A new and energized generation of storytellers has emerged in recent times to rewrite the history books and reignite the flames of African consciousness. DSE Shorts always seeks to share the works of people spearheading this mission; musicians, directors, writers and artists in general. The works of Falani Spivey stands out from most, as she shares some very interesting yet untold stories being written today by Africans on and off the continent. Falani found the inspiration to begin her work as an independent filmmaker after travelling to different countries in Africa, South America and the Caribbean.
Maestrina Da Favela
Maestrina Da Favela is an unfinished social documentary that Falani felt inspired to begin during a trip to Bahia, Brazil. The filmmaker notes the significance of Brazil within the African Diaspora, having the largest population of Africans in the world outside of Nigeria. According to Falani, “The culture, landscape and the people of Bahia creates a very cinematic scene, there is a story to be told with each person you meet.”
One such story is that of Elem, who, from the tender age of eight years old, has been beating a new rhythm in the poverty- and crime-stricken community of Rochina with her band of youth drummers. Targeting the children of drug abusers, Elem provides an escape from the chaos of which defines everyday life for these children through music. Maestrina Da Favela which is Portuguese for “Master of the Slum” is a fitting title for now fifteen year old Elem who has become a well respected figure in her community.
“The stories of Afro-Brazilians have not been explored very much through film, so I felt compelled to use my camera as a basis to document my trip. Prior to going, I had an idea to do basic interviews with Afro-Brazilians about the culture and history. On the last day of my month long trip, divine intervention led me to an encounter with Elem, who became a source of empowerment for me to tell her story through film. I’ve documented her growth from an adolescent to a woman, whom is now battling three aneurysms, but is resiliently continuing her work. One of my goals now, with the project, is to assist her with funding to get medical assistance for the aneurysms, for her to continue her quests to save children from a life of drugs and violence.”