Encounters Film Festival 2012: Dancing with the Devil
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has been the setting and theme for many films in the last decade. The crossfire and urban war between cops and drug lords rages on, inspiring films like City of God, Elite Squad and even the Fast and Furious 5. Diversity, colour and rustic beauty form the backdrop for one of the most serious deadlocks in recent history as the government attempts to neutralise a situation that is fast becoming a national trademark. In Dancing with the Devil, Jon Blair takes to the streets with a mobile crew of filmmakers and presents the situation from the perspective of several key players.
Blair documents the lives of three men in Dancing with the Devil: a cop, a pastor and a drug dealer, coming into contact with locals and some of the most notorious drug lords in the city. From an ordinary day in the favelas to hostile clean-and-sweep police situations, the camera roves between these vulnerable men and portrays a situation, in which everyone has a job to do, whether its raiding drug dens, protecting a stash or trying to bring men closer to God. "Another day, another dollar" is the thinking and in a strange way, the cops and criminals aren't so different... both armed by their day jobs, both trapped in a cycle of violence that seems altogether unstoppable and meaningless. Blair investigates their "noble" motivations and wrestles with the socio-economic factors that keep these men chained to their second choice pursuits.
Dancing with the Devil is a slick, beautifully-shot, fascinating and moving human journey that gives each side a mascot and a voice without demonising or stereotyping. There are good and bad aspects to each of these complex characters as they themselves are brought to question their pursuits and end goals. By understanding the dire situation from the ground up it seems that the Brazilian government are approaching the problem head-on, when real transformation can only really happen from the inside out.
The bottom line: Daring
The Encounters Documentary Film Festival is underway in Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa between 7 and 24 June.