A model constructed at the top of the Pereirão community, in the Laranjeiras district in Rio de Janeiro’s southern zone, marked the beginnings of TV Morrinho. The project was launched in 2001 amidst renovation promoting the digital through audiovisual media, with a focus on breaking free of models embodied in traditional media in order to shape the narratives of marginalized groups. The approximately 5-minute videos reproduce the day to day of the favela in a lucid, humorous manner, that is particularly inventive and representative of the local atmosphere. Completely filmed in the 450-square-meter model under open skies, a mimetic representation of the favela, Lego dolls “live” as avatars of the types of humans moving around the real world of Pereirão.
Contrary to other projects democratizing the audiovisual, that penetrate communities from the outside, the language of Morrinho has existed, as a game, since 1998. Cirlan Souza de Oliveira says that Pereirão used to be one of the city’s most dangerous favelas. In order to steer clear of the traffic, the 14-year-old adolescent and his 8-year old brother, Maycon, started building a miniature favela in their backyard. The game attracted more kids. His neighbor, Ranieri, wanted to take part, brought five other neighbors with him and soon the group of eight founding “architects” of Morrinho had formed.
The visual effect of the model is impressive. Colorful bricks climb up the slope of an embankment lined with jackfruit trees through its alleys and sloping streets, houses, samba school, daycare, small shop, drug house, and soccer court. The dolls, animated by the gestures and voices of the kids playing, are vibrant characters who don’t mince words. There’s Lego-drug-trafficker expanding his territory; there’s Lego-DJ playing beats at a funk party; there’s Lego-student heading to school; and even Lego-Saci punishing those who steal candy from children.