Shot on location in Brazil, Warrior of Light is a documentary portrait of the extraordinary Brazilian social activist Yvonne Bezerra de Mello, a fiercely individual female pioneer whose work with street kids in Rio de Janeiro's most dangerous slums is truly inspiring.
Bezerra de Mello, with her mile-wide smile and fierce pragmatism, is as much a contradiction as Rio itself. Born into the middle class, she studied at the Sorbonne, married a Swedish diplomat, raised three children in Europe, divorced, returned to Rio, and married a wealthy hotelier from a traditional Brazilian family. While growing into the customary social life of the elite, Yvonne established herself as an accomplished sculptor and writer who also took pleasure in her practice as a skilled equestrian.
All changed however, with the 1993 Candelaria massacre of homeless children by Rio's military police. Already concerned with the plight of Rio's street kids, Yvonne became a world-famous human-rights crusader by offering protection to survivors of the atrocity. Subsequently, she founded Projeto Uere or Children of Light, which she dedicated to the protection and education of the kids living in Rio's streets. Although Projeto Uere brought her into conflict with Brazil's wealthy elite, Bezerra de Mello gained international recognition for her work, winning many awards including Femme Lumiere of the 20th century by the UNESCO.
What is most remarkable about Bezerra de Mello is her literally hands-on approach. Risking great danger in slums terrorized by drug lords, she builds shelters, establishes safe houses, and, above all, provides education, music, and boundless affection to children who have previously known nothing but poverty, abuse, and fear. Acclaimed German director Monika Treut (My Father Is Coming, Virgin Machine) sees Bezerra de Mello not as a saint but as a fiercely individual female pioneer, a woman who is as vividly real as she is inspirational.
In English, Brazilian, and Portuguese with English Subtitles
Written, directed & produced by
SABINE LINZ, MANFRED GEIER
Yvonne Bezerra de Mello
Alvaro Bezerra de Mello
Lucia Cavalcanti (Yvonne's mother)
Luciana Martha (Yvonne's assistant)
Ayrton S. Ribeiro
Paolo Longo Campos (Capoiera teacher)
Amarylis Vianna (friend of Yvonne)
& the children of Projeto Uere (Children of Light), featuring Tiago, Vanessa, Jessica, Joice, Pamela