Children of Rio

Thierry Michel
Belgium 1990 | 48 Min. | 16 mm, OmeU

Luis Carlos, also called “The Rat”, and Luciano de Souca, “The Chi­na­man”, are gang mem­bers who were aban­doned as chil­dren onto the streets of Rio. These two Car­i­o­cas teenagers have been left to their own devices all their lives and have sur­vived by beg­ging, steal­ing, and deal­ing in drugs. Bright­en­ing this harsh life are the friend­ships that have sus­tained them, their loy­al­ty to each other, and their con­ta­gious high spir­its that emerge at events like Carnival. 

This film allows them to speak in their own words. For Luis, the con­trol­ling imper­a­tives are “eating” and “sur­viv­ing”. Souca, the six­teen-year-old gang leader, has a can­ni­ness and intel­li­gence that allows him to sur­vive on the fringes of soci­ety. He steals to buy food and also glue, the fumes of which pro­vide him with a bliss­ful high - the only hap­pi­ness he has ever known. Unem­ploy­ment, pop­u­la­tion explo­sion and the break up of fam­i­lies are the root causes for the aban­don­ment of such young­sters all over the Third World.