ITAQUERA - a World Cup in the Backyard

ITAQUERA - a World Cup in the Backyard
A Documentary by Veerle Denissen, Ron Santing & Daan Dekker
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funded project
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Project Information

About the project
LOCKLINEFour inhabitants of rough São Paulo suburb Itaquera face hope and desperation counting down to the World Cup kick-off in their backyard.


The documentary series Itaquera – A World Cup in the backyard tells the story of four inhabitants of Itaquera, a lower middle-class neighborhood in the outskirts of metropolis São Paulo. The upcoming World Cup influences the lives of these people immensely: either in a positive or a negative way. Together with them, we’ll count down to the start of the event, following their development and that of the neighborhood.

Itaquera is a Brazilian suburb like many others. It’s located in the east zone of São Paulo, the ‘Zona Leste’, and has a bad reputation. People are struggling to make something of their lives while facing the usual problems: a high crime level, drug abuse, and poverty. The new stadium, the Itaquerão, is located right in the centre of Itaquera. This is where the World Cup’s opening ceremony will take place.

We will show how both the neighborhood and the lives of our main characters are changing. We will get to know Drancy, the leader of Favela Da Paz which is located just next to the stadium, who has to leave his house because of public works. He’s been living in uncertainty for the last year about where and when he has to go.  And he still doesn’t know what the future holds for him: only that he will be gone before June.

Djair on the other hand is very happy about the upcoming Cup in his neighborhood. Every week he travels to a factory in Paraguay to buy national team football shirts and expand his stock. He plans to charge in dollars and double his price, so that after the cup he can buy a new car and a new house. But will the FIFA let him sell his shirts close to the stadium?

We will also follow Douglas, a rap and graffiti artist from Itaquera, who is actively involved in the protests against the World Cup because he wants things to change in the neighborhood. He’s lost various friends to crime and drugs and wants a better future for his son. Money should be spent on healthcare and public transport instead of on stadiums, so he feels.

We'll get to know Raquel, a beautiful police detective, who has to make sure the opening ceremony happens smoothly. Raquel is a fanatic boxer and lives in one of the richest neighborhoods of São Paulo: Jardins. She choose to work in Itaquera because she wanted to do something meaningful with her life. Since 2012 Raquel is already preparing for the World Cup. Terrorist attacks, roberies, prostitution; she has to know how to act in every situation. 


Itaquera will be broadcasted in several ways: as a television series, as a web series and as a documentary. The series will be produced from January to June and broadcasted/published in May-June 2014. It will be broadcasted on Brazilian national television (Canal Futura) and published on a special website.

We will produce the documentary, in which we will tell the entire story as a whole, in December 2014. This is a separate project. After the World Cup circus has left, we will visit the neighborhood once again to see what’s left of the developments and the promises made by FIFA and the government. Using the previously produced material we’ll be able to tell the whole story of what has happened in the direct surroundings of the new World Cup stadium. 


Don't get us wrong: we enjoy the World Cup. A lot. All three of us have always been fanatic spectators during the event. But while living in Brazil, we are seeing some of the side effects it causes from up close. We really think we should share this with a broader audience and make people aware of the different interests at stake. Not to make them boycott the World Cup, but to make them see the matches in perspective. Also to make them understand life in a poor neighborhood in São Paulo’s Zona Leste, and at the same time life of the average Brazilian.

Not only World Cup fans in the Netherlands do not know what's going on in a Brazilian suburb like Itaquera, also in Brazil itself most people stay far away from it. It's considered to be poor and therefore dangerous, while the people in Itaquera themselves are just very eager to tell their story. And we have the capacity and time to let them do that.

We want these series to reflect Brazil as the three of us experience the country: lighthearted and positive but rough on the edges. As we want to reach a large audience, we will use popular Brazilian culture like music, street art and of course, football. This way, we want both the Dutch and the Brazilians to be able to identify with our characters and their lives just like we do.


Without your help it will not be possible to tell this story. So thank you so much for considering supporting our project! We are happy to spend all our time on the project, but we also need money. Webdevelopment, equipment, travelexpenses, an editor to finalize the episodes... Every euro exceeding our target of 10.000 euros will be spent on professionalizing the final documentary: sound mixing, color grading, maybe a customized soundtrack or cool graphics…We can really use every penny/cent/centavo!

For us this is an amazing chance to do what we love: getting to know people and a society we normally wouldn’t, and filming beautiful images along with it. For the people in Itaquera it’s important to get international attention for their story and being the focus of São Paulo for once, instead of the black sheep.

We’ve thought of different ways to give you something in return for your donation, big or small, while keeping it closely related to our project. That lead us to some nice rewards, like the latest album of rap artist Douglas he produced together with his girlfriend, or a football shirt of choice from Djair.  Also you can receive a book about Brazilian football players and their life stories (‘De Brazilianen’, by Daan Dekker), or the alternative World Cup guide ‘Eu Sou Brasileiro’ (by Lokaalmondiaal).

But also we want to especially invite people attending the World Cup to invest in this project. If you’re coming to São Paulo, you can get a Itaquera-tour and meet our characters in person. We will organize a barbecue at José’s restaurant where afterwards you can see a match. And, one of our top-rewards, we offer you a place to stay at our apartment for one week during the event (limited reward of course!). 


Valeu, thanks for your time and attention! For articles, photo's and video's about Itaquera, please visit our website (articles in Dutch): and follow us on facebook and twitter!

Quote that inspired the maker

“FIFA got what it came for: money. Things like transportation that affect the public after the tournament is over? They don’t care. They don’t care about what is going to be left behind.”
ROMÁRIO in The New York Times
This project was successfully funded on 05-03-2014

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