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Heroes in the shadow - Documentary production

Regardless of country, culture, or even decade the mother and the human relationship with their mother is one of the most important and primitive relationships. Mothers, inherently, give everything to their families; body, mind, and spirit to create a life in which their offspring can thrive.  


Can you imagine the intense stress, pain, difficulties, and even joy that mothers face while raising children in the largest favela in Latin America?

Brazil is a society with deeply rooted machismo ideals, with traditional family structures, men go to work and women take care of the family. However, in favelas, lack of traditional job opportunities leads to most men joining the gangs, ending up in jail or dead, leaving the majority of the women from Rocinha to play both the role of father and mother. Furthermore, with a lack of education, most women have multiple kids from multiple fathers and in many cases find themselves rising upwards of 5 kids alone. However, these mothers are very much the family patriarchs and always lead their family forward.


The local team of student photographers, lead by Florian Tomasini, had the opportunity to document the daily lives of mothers from the favela, observing the daily struggles and precious moments of joy that mothers from Rocinha encounter on a daily basis. The sliver of hope, the reason to continue pushing forward is their desire to give their children a better life, simply give them the opportunity to have a choice, to choose what they want to do. In favelas life is not easy, opportunity does not come knocking, it is those who work daily for an unguaranteed chance to break out of their destiny of being a maid, housewife, or drug trafficker that may have a chance, a chance to simply choose their future.

This project was directed by Florian Tomasini and produced by the ACE photography team, Luiz Breno, Sofia Rodrigues Lopes, and Isabela Dos Reis. Luiz, Sofia, and “Isa” were chosen because they have truly been enamored with the opportunity to participate in photography classes, and have developed strong professionalism in their work. It is ACE hope that they will continue to inspire their peers as their work is displayed throughout Europe, sharing their message, vision, and starting to change perspectives about what it means to be from a favela.


Through sport, education, and therapy, ACE empowers children in impoverished areas. ACE helps them reach their maximum potential, break social barriers, and provides the necessary tools for youth to develop both mentally and physically in order to make foundational changes in their future and future of their countries.

Favela experience - Content producer

contents producer

Favela Experience is a for-profit social enterprise that provides culturally immersive tours and cultural experiences to travellers, students and volunteers in favelas, Brazil’s most fascinating urban communities.

Favela inc - contents producer