by Tim Birkbeck
When you think of Rio de Janeiro what images does it conjure up? Bright colours and street parties? Christ the Redeemer? How about daily gunfights? The sun soaked cultural city of Brazil has a dark underbelly which people are quick to sweep under the carpet, but through that dark there is some light.
One such beacon of light is the subject of director Ben Holman’s latest short documentary The Good Fight. Alan Duarte, was born and lives in the notorious favela community of Complexo do Alemão and has seen the stranglehold that drug trafficking has on his community first hand.
The is a prominent line in this 15 minute documentary, where Alan says nine male members of his family have all lost their lives because of gunfire. It may not paint a pretty picture of part of Rio de Janeiro which Brazil’s tourist board would probably rather forget. But what Holman’s film does it shows how one man’s vision has helped transform a community. Rather than following the norm in the favela’s Alan turns to boxing and uses it as a positive influence, not only on his own life but those in his community.
After the death of his older brother – who was a father to Alan – the boxing enthusiast decided that his own salvation wasn’t enough and so he began his own boxing project Abraço Campeão (Embracing Champions) to try and save others and build a brighter future for his son and the whole community. Holman gives a snapshot of some of the people whose lives have been changed by Abraço Campeão, from a young man who was caught up in drug trafficking to a girl who didn’t want to bring her daughter into the world, they all have achieved a better way of life thanks to ‘Father Alan’.
This isn’t to say there is now perfect harmony within these parts of Brazil – one such training session is cut short when gunfire is heard and all the student flee.
But if nothing else Alan has now provided people with an option. Abraço Campeão uses both boxing and alternative education, alongside mentoring to provide a more holistic offering to the young people,
Even though this is a brief snapshot of what Abraço Campeão what is captivating about this film is the main voice you hear throughout is Alan’s. It is his story, it is his vision, and despite clearly being a huge inspiration to people he is still a very humble man.
Dir: Ben Holman
Scr: Ben Holman
Run time: 15 minutes