'Baixada Never Gives Up' Goes Global: EXPO 2017!

Photo credit: UNDP Kazakhstan

By Thomaz Talarico

In collaboration with UNDP Kazakhstan, the UNDP RIO+ Centre held two screenings of the "Baixada Nunca Se Rende" ("Baixada Never Gives Up") documentary in Astana, Kazakhstan: one at UNDP Kazakhstan’s Country Office to UN colleagues and another public exhibition at EXPO’s UN Pavilion for UNVs and invited guests.

After its launch on 17 May at the iconic Cine Odeon in Rio de Janeiro and the series of national screenings in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the ‘Baixada Never Gives Up’ documentary, directed by italian Christian Tragni and brazilian Juliana Espinola, had its first international exhibition at the mega event EXPO 2017 on 13 July, 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan.

This year, Central Asian Kazakhstan is hosting the International Specialized Exhibition (EXPO 2017) as of June until September, delving into the theme of “Future Energy” and bringing both intensive investment and international attention to the fast-growing capital in the North, Astana.

The EXPO is a renowned universal exhibition where countries and international organizations showcase their achievements and latest inventions, this time, in the field of energy. More than 100 countries and 10 international organizations are taking part in the preparations of the pavilions, with more than 5 million people expected to visit the entertainment, technologic and knowledge facilities.

The main attraction of this year's EXPO edition among the 35 facilities spread across 1.74 km2 is the huge sphere-shaped structure and National Pavilion of Kazakhstan. Built using the latest technologies and presented as the “Museum of Future Energy”, this thematic Sphere showcases Kazakhstan’s latest inventions in the field of energy, with eight levels that features solar, kinetic, biomass, space, water and wind technologies.

1 million visitors and counting...

During the week of the millionth visit, RIO+ Centre screened the 'Baixada Never Gives Up' documentary at the United Nations pavilion at EXPO 2017 for invited and public guests, including Youth from Nazarbayev University and UN Volunteers.

‘Music to Advance Sustainable Development’ pilot project was implemented in collaboration with the open-group of artists #BXDNuncaSeRende during the past year. It explores the transformative potential of music to popularize the 2030 Agenda and contribute to active citizenship and accountability in the Baixada Fluminense region bearing the "Leaving No One Behind" pledge.

Baixada Fluminense is a region compromised by 13 out of 92 municipalities that compose the state of Rio de Janeiro. With a population mounting to more than 3.5 million people, it represents around 23% of Rio’s state population but with a median income per capita that is almost half of the state average. Nevertheless, while the region faces challenges such as high rates of violence and weak sanitation, to name a few, Baixada’s resilience and creative potential makes it a hub of talented artists and birthplace to some of the most renowned musicians in Brazil – hence the name #BXDNuncaSeRende (#BaixadaNeverGivesUp).

This pilot project gave birth to a new UN-citizen engagement model and methodology that will be featured in a publication (RIO+ Centre's Creative Approaches to Leave No One Behind Toolkit). Other products includes a CD with 7 original songs that delves into the 5P’s of the 2030 Agenda and a 65-minutes documentary narrating the project’s story.

Music without borders is what #BXDNuncaSeRende stands for today.

Screening the documentary in the biggest ongoing international exposition in Central Asia is a glimpse of how different cultures can easily communicate between themselves, especially through music.

May it be in the West or East, the universality of this audiovisual piece enables it to speak for itself, conveying a message that can be easily grasped anywhere around the globe: the strength of Baixada’s artistic and cultural values out-speaks and shows a clear pathway for local human sustainable development pointing to creative expressions such as music as drivers to unlock change away from poverty and violence.

As cultural expressions took over the EXPO Park in Astana, Rio’s music from Baixada Fluminense dialogued with local traditions and brought a glimpse of Brazilian culture to Astana with original sustainable-related reggae, rock, hip hop and rap songs.

One month before, UNDP Kazakhstan had partnered during the official UN Day at EXPO with the Kazakh artistic group called Artishock, brightening the EXPO campus with artistic moves and culture. The fact is that UNDP colleagues are also innovating and exploring the power of music to leverage project results: a crowdfunding campaign is being conducted by UNDP Kazakhstan in order to fund the Social Café, Kunde.

RIO+ Centre had the opportunity to gather with UNDP colleagues by the Ishim River bank during one of the crowdfunding activities that built empathy through a musical street performance by UNDP staff, receiving donations from individuals that supported the cause. Surprisingly, some (many) brazilian songs were choired by the local crowd and despite any cultural difference between Brazilians and Kazakhs, that moment held none. Amazing how far music and empathy can go, and how much they can do together.

Once again, by screening the "Baixada Nunca Se Rende" documentary at EXPO 2017, RIO+ Centre explored the wide-reaching potential of alternative approaches to popularize the 2030 Agenda, triggering debate among international and diverse publics about the theme. Last June, the latter was also explored under the scope of the UN Ocean Conference in New York with the launch event of Ricardo Gomes’ “Urban Bay” film.

As a hub for the production and distribution of innovative and creative products that carries the message of sustainable development, RIO+ Centre will continue to inspire and explore creative expressions as calls-to-action for the 2030 Agenda, tapping into communication silos that music, films, and other audiovisual products can effectively delve.

As for future exhibitions, RIO+ Centre has confirmed the following international and national exhibitions of 'Baixada Nunca Se Rende' documentary for the upcoming semester:

International

- Exhibition in Beijing, China: UNDP China’s Country Office on 24 July, 2017

- Exhibition in Maputo, Mozambique: Gil Vicente’s Cultural Centre and Higher Institute of Art and Culture on 27 July, 2017

National

- Exhibition at Paraty, Brazil: FLIP on 28 July, 2017

- Exhibition at Duque de Caxias: Panaftosa on 18 August, 2017

And more to come, stay tunned!