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Episode 1 of 3

Documentary series exploring Rio's shanty-towns, the favelas. In Cantagalo, delivery man Rocky carries goods up the steep staircases overlooking Copacabana and Ipanema.

As the eyes of the world turn to Rio de Janeiro for the 2014 World Cup, this three-part observational series reveals the truth about life inside Rio's famous shanty-towns, the favelas, through the lives of people who live there.

For years, the favelas were considered dangerous no-go areas, ruled by brutal drug traffickers. The government even built walls that hide them from view. Now with extraordinary access to these hidden worlds, this series reveals the favelas are places of energy, resourcefulness and humour, the crucible of all that is hot about Rio.

As part of the preparations for the World Cup and Olympics, the government has launched a military campaign to wrest control of the favelas from the drug gangs, a process they call 'pacification'. The series shows how pacification threatens the favelas' whole way of life, creating new problems even as it solves the old.

The first episode is filmed in one of the first favelas to be pacified, Cantagalo, a labyrinth of secret stairways that sits high on the hills overlooking the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.

The film follows two men: Rocky, a delivery man extraordinaire, who works every day to support his family carrying fridges, ovens and televisions on his shoulders up Cantagalo's steep staircases. As if those feats were not enough, he's also got to deal with his wayward son Felipe, who's caught up in the battle between the police and drug traffickers for control of the hill.

It also tells the story of Acme, a graffiti artist who lives with his family beside a football pitch where drug traffickers used to execute those who broke their rules. The shooting may have stopped, but Acme faces a new threat, thanks to pacification. The government has declared his house is unsafe and has to be demolished.

1 hour

Last on

Wed 18 Jun 2014 01:05

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Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • Yaiza Varona

    Olinda 60's

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Turkish March (Alla Turca)

  • Oliver Ledbury

    Empty City 3

  • Tim Garland

    Freeway Beat

  • Tina Guo


  • Barker & Lomax

    Little Nemo

  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Les Vepres Siciliennes (The Sicilian Vespers)

  • MC Júnior & MC Leonardo

    Rap Das Armas

  • Bob Bradley & Lincoln Grounds

    Paris Dreamer 5

  • Pete Masitti & John Barrow


  • Academy of St Martin in the Fields


  • Oliver Ledbury

    Empty City 3

  • Bill Bruford

    Afro Cuban Groove

  • Tim Garland

    Last Dance

  • Christopher Ashmore

    Swing Thing

  • Richard Wagner


  • Academy of St Martin in the Fields

    Glory to the god in the highest

  • Crispin Taylor, Ernie McKone & Toby Baker

    Down Orange Street

  • Arthur Fiedler, Leo Litwin, Samual Lipman, Martin Hoerman & Boston Pops Orchestra

    The Cuckoo in the Depth of the Forest

  • The Champs


  • Edvard Grieg

    Anitra's Dance (Peer Gynt Suite No.1, Op.46)

    Orchestra: Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Conductor: Neville Marriner.
  • Tim Devine & Francisco Renno

    Impressions of Twilight

  • Claude Debussy

    Clair De Lune

  • Barrie Gledden, Richard Lacy & Richard Kimmings

    Alley Catz

  • Keith Nichols

    Royale St.

  • Keith Nichols

    Voodoo Nights


Role Contributor
Series Editor Sunshine Jackson
Director Edward Watts
Producer Andrew Palmer
Producer Will Anderson


  • Tue 27 May 2014 21:00
  • Thu 29 May 2014 23:20
  • Wed 18 Jun 2014 01:05

"From the moment I set foot in the favelas, I fell in love with them"

"From the moment I set foot in the favelas, I fell in love with them"

Director Edward Watts on how he had ten minutes to film the vital shots.