New short film made in Edmonton focuses on history of Brazilian martial art form capoeira

November 21, 2021
New short film made in Edmonton focuses on history of Brazilian martial art form capoeira
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Edmonton martial arts instructor Reni Lima Ferreira is the subject of the new short film There’s More to Capoeira Than You Think.

Ferreira has been teaching the techniques and history of capoeira, a Brazilian martial art form, to Edmontonians since moving to the city 21 years ago. 

The film looks into the history and true meaning behind the form which mixes music, dance, acrobatics and martial art.

Ferreira told CBC’s Edmonton AM he was excited at the prospect of sharing the story of capoeira.

“It made me shy but I was very happy and I’m very glad that a lot of these people can see it immediately because of the history of this art,” Ferreira said Friday. 

Capoeira was developed by African slaves in Brazil, first as a form of leisure activity and later as a means to fight. 

Brazil imported more slaves than any other country and was the last country to abolish slavery. Capoeira was the language of revolt for those slaves.

“They used the [dance] aspect of it to hide it — it was just a game; it was just their music. But when it was time to fight for freedom, they use it as martial arts,” said Edmonton-based filmmaker Sandro Silva.

Silva wrote, directed and produced the film by for CBC’s Creator Network, an initiative which collaborates with diverse producers to amplify Canadian stories. 

Silva is co-owner of Dona Ana Films & Multimedia and the executive producer of the award-winning documentary 3 Siblings.

He made capoeira the subject of the film in recognition of the lack of awareness of Afro-Brazilians and their culture. 

Capoeira Mestre Reni Lima Ferreira is the subject of a short film by Edmonton filmmaker Sandro Silva for CBC’s Creator Network. (Submitted by Sandro Silva)

“It’s really rare to see Afro-Brazilians overseas,” he said. “When we see these special people like [Ferreira] bringing our culture overseas, it is something unique and that’s the main point.”

Capoeira is still about fighting oppression as Black people remain discriminated against in Brazil and here in Canada, Silva said. 

“We’re still fighting against oppression and that’s our way to do it,” he said.

In the two decades since leaving Brazil, Ferreira has honed the skills that celebrate his culture. And he’s educating Canadians about what it means to be part of the Afro-Brazilian community.

Silva and Ferreira hope the film will further that goal.

“Those things, people don’t really know, and that’s why we’re bringing to life those points to actually educate people, and educate ourselves too,” Silva said.

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