It is this characterisation of the film’s setting, so decadent in its treatment of cinematically thrilling social ills, that has inspired thousands of fans of the film to flock to the favelas.There are, however, serious ethical issues to be considered before embarking on favela or slum tours.While some tour companies (like Mumbai’s Reality Tours and Rio’s Favela Tour) are committed to affirming the dignity of the people who live in the slums they visit — forbidding photographs and encouraging positive cultural exchange — other operators adopt a hands-off approach, permitting a kind of feedback loop that validates tourists’ problematic assumptions about the places they’re visiting.
As the favela’s population expands onscreen, the petty crime we see in the film’s earlier scenes turn darker and more ubiquitous.
Women are beaten, raped and killed by jealous men, drug-dealers pick each other off in crowded clubs, and innocent residents are caught up and gunned down in the streets.
Companies that don’t challenge the above assumptions are likely to be run by outside actors, rather than favela-dwellers themselves (as Favela Tour is), and thus will probably take a similarly detached and uninterested approach to improving the communities they tour, too.
Tourism Concern describes favela-dwellers as feeling exploited by such companies, who use the favela as a profit-making means without putting any money back in to the favela (whether through employing local guides, promoting local vendors or funding community projects).
-style bands of little kids – nicknamed the Runts – run riot and rob local businesses, while the favela’s ruling echelons wrestle for bloody domination of the drug scene over everyone’s heads.
Kids maim and murder other kids with alarming frequency, conveying the idea that, in the favela’s condensed timeline of life, childhoods never last long, one way or another.Firstly, it has to be recognised that the real favela differs greatly from the ‘reel’ version.Although is loosely based on a real first-hand account of life in a favela in the ’80s, it is not a documentary — this is something that should be obvious given the film’s hyperbolic approach to style and narrative.Images like this are cut together with frenetic energy; breakneck-speed edits chop the film up and leave viewers disoriented and convinced that favela life is lived with an otherworldly, fever-pitch vivacity.presents Rio’s favelas as places in which life is lived fast and furiously, with the frisson of danger undercutting everything – born from murder, violence, drugs – being the key attraction.Favela tours had existed prior to the film’s release, but as Brazilian academic Bianca Freire-Medeiros (who specialises in favela tourism studies) has found, ’s role in the increase in favela tourism, and found that all interviewees agreed: the movie was “largely responsible” for the boom.“After the movie…Rio de Janeiro favelas became…hyped”, Leandro Firmino (who played the capricious Lil Zé in the film) told interviewers in a follow-up documentary to the movie, titled .In 2014, Tourism Concern reported that one such company existed in Rocinha; at the time of writing, I found at least three, which indicates a positive shift (hopefully on the demand side as much as the supply).For their part, filmmakers and studios must also be mindful of the legacies they leave behind once the crew has packed up their equipment and flown home. But these trips aren’t always confined to well-groomed suburbs, studio-built sets or peaceful villages; increasingly commonly, tourists are also paying for tours in less well-off locales made famous by the movies.In the last few decades, a resurgence of “slum tourism” – a practice born in Victorian London – has taken off, with cinema contributing its fair share to the growing numbers behind this ethically iffy travel phenomenon.