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The Good Fight Review

The Good Fight is a short documentary film about a man who works to transform the future of his Brazilian favela community through boxing.

The word ‘favela’ is Portuguese. It literally translates to ‘slum’ in English and are low income urban housing areas spread about the cities of Brazil. You’ve seen them in magazines and on television, poorly-constructed homes patched together in seemingly random disorder where the impoverished have been pushed to the side. They began in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1800s but most modern favelas sprang up in the 1970s when many migrated to the larger cities leaving a significant lot with no other place to live. They are often defined by their impoverished populations, ruled by drug traffickers, and dominated by gun violence.

It is here where we meet Alan Duarte, a young man who has grown up in Complexo do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro, a favela where hope seems impossible. He’s lost ten family members to bullets, not seen a man in his family die of natural causes, and recently lost his older brother Jackson – who was more like his father – fall victim to the battles in the streets. Wanting to steer his life from this trap, following the advice of his brother who worked to save him, he turned to boxing, a place to focus and vent. It changed his life, and in such, decided it could do the same for others.

In his neighborhood, he started his own boxing project, called Abraço Campeão (Embracing Champions), inviting all to come and find salvation in the ring. Now, he teaches young and old, girl and boy, to learn the benefits of exercise and personal challenge, teaching them the sport but more so, how to feel strong, not just in body, but mind. While shots ring out at night, and his training sometimes interrupted by gang warfare in the alleys nearby, children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and more join together to build better futures.

Directed by Ben Holman, who lived for ten years in Brazil, and known Duarte for even longer, The Good Fight is a short, 15-minute glimpse into this often misunderstood and forgotten world. It follows Duarte all about the favela (we often only see the man’s back as he trudges along the streets) as he talks about his life and passions, the frayed tapestry of violence and poverty passing by him as he moves. These are haunting images, the man, a sports bag over his shoulder, cutting lines through gun-toting bandits lining the dusty, shallow-lit streets. He does it to save his own young son, and the people he now calls “his own children” who come to him for a break in their lives, many given a sense of meaning for their efforts and his guidance.

Holman separates himself from the film, allowing Duarte and a few others with whom has had impact, speak, taking us on a short but inspiring passage through an often bleak existence, the reminders of horror always edging in on the hope. Duarte is a public mentor, and hopes to change attitudes in the next generation, to reshape the lives of those who come next. It’s a challenging and powerfully emotional message.

The Good Fight Review

Movie description: The Good Fight is a short documentary film about a man who works to transform the future of his Brazilian favela community through boxing.

Director(s): Ben Holman

Genre: Documentary, Short

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