The Butterflies - Notes from the Production

By Vagner de Almeida
Director / Producer

The Butterflies is a documentary film about the social exclusion of transgender and gay youth in the impoverished neighborhoods on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

This film is not the result of many years working with these communities. It is very early or fake to talk about results if these populations had their lives not resolved by the social systems. To direct this film I received a public grant, small, but it was possible to realize this peace of this documentary. The Ministry of Health in Brazil and supported by ABIA – Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association with develop the Project for Gay Youth in poor areas around of Rio de Janeiro.

Planning framework designed to reduce the incidence of HIV infection, self esteem, human rights among gay youths, transvestites and Afro Brazilians the most vulnerable group of gays in Brazil.. This film captures key themes and creative ideas to share with the whole Brazilian national and international also.

The most important key in this film is to invite people from basic communities and authorities to build upon your local and state HIV prevention, discrimination and stigma advocacy efforts. The documentary want to also encourage the Brazilian society and societies around the world to sustain and further discussions about the possibility of a re-imagined the social violence, HIV prevention landscape against these social actors.
With 40,000 new HIV infections every year and concerns about the disproportionate affect the epidemic is having on youth poor gays on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro and repeating around the world with the same population who are completely invisible if front of the authorities and the whole population…Butterflies of Life show that it is time to take stock, reflect and renew our collective resolve for an even more creative and refreshed set of HIV, discrimination and social exclusion possibilities.

The film examines their daily survival strategies in the face of social and physical violence, following them in their interactions with family, communities and the surrounding social system. It explores the ways in which these young people face the dangerous realities around them that are largely beyond their control.

Many live to be no more than 20 years old. To live or to die has the same mean for many of them. Some manage to survive doing odd jobs such as housecleaning, hairdressing, selling beauty production, but they are the minority. The majority survive selling their bodies on the express-way that links Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo, and facing heightened vulnerability to HIV and other STIs, because no employer is willing to hire them in traditional jobs.

Discrimination and hatred are their greatest enemies within a cultural system that makes their suffering invisible to the broader society.

Expelled from school and unemployed, their families and many local religious groups stigmatize them, even as many of them continue to provide financial support for their families through their sex work.

Yet somehow these youth find ways of banding together, often sharing housing with one another in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. They create a community of resistance.

Key actors in the emerging GLBT communities taking shape in Brazilian society, these young people fight to find their voice and to declare their dignity and rights as citizens.


To get copies of these documentaries,
please contact ABIA (Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS).

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