Open Arms Closed Doors – Brazil

Brazil’s booming economy brings many African migrants to its shores, but once there does the dream of a better life die?

The booming economic juggernaut in Brazil has transformed lives. It has also acted as a beacon attracting migrants from all over the world, including the former Portuguese colony of Angola.

Expecting to find a vast multicultural embrace, Angolan immigrant Badharo instead finds barriers and even racism in Rio.

So he turns to music as a way to express his disappointment, pain and outrage.

Set against the tragic death of a young Angolan student, we experience the frustrations Badharo and his family face as their Brazilian dreams encounter a very different reality.

Among those migrants leaving Africa, particularly Angolans, Brazil has become an increasingly popular destination over the traditional choice of Europe – due in part to a shared history as a Portuguese colony but also in light of recent economic hurdles and a rising wave of xenophobia in Europe.

Brazil’s booming economy coupled with attractive immigration policies and support for student visas, has also served to draw in these migrants. However, there has been a spike in racism and violence targeting the black population of Brazil, including these Angolan migrants.

Since 2008, the rate of homicides involving young black men is 127.6 percent higher than those involving whites.



Fernanda Polacow has studied Social Communications and Social Sciences. She works as a filmmaker, screenwriter and researcher.

She began her career in the not-for-profit sector developing research and programmes looking at environmental and human impact issues.

Her work focuses on themes related to the population of the Amazon, immigration and the relationship between Brazil and Africa. This work includes both research and writing for TV programmes and documentaries. She has worked for some of the major production companies in Brazil such as O2 Films and Bossa Nova Films and has directed films for TV Futura in Brazil and RTP2 in Portugal.

As a director she has worked on a TV series called Triangle in co-production with Portugal and Angola that will soon become a feature documentary. She is currently researching and writing a feature film that will be set in Mozambique.

Juliana Borges is a filmmaker and journalist dedicated to looking deeply into the relationship between Brazil and African countries.

She has a journalism degree from the University of São Paulo and is a member of the multimedia collective Tás a ver?

She works to coordinate exchange projects between Brazil and African countries. Juliana co-directed Triangle , a documentary for Portuguese Television RTP2 on the relations between Luanda, Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro.

She also worked on a video project, Brazil’s East Border , about new African immigration to Brazil for TV Futura. In 2010, she directed the documentary Luanda Emotional Geographies about a community seen through the eyes of Luanda’s artists.

She is the author of the reportage book Angola – Life Stories in Angola , published in 2005 as her graduation paperwork. She collaborates with various publications, such as Exame , Exame PME , Bravo! , Novo Jornal (Angola) and Rolling Stone .