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Pixadores - running on top of buildings

Pixadores, a powerful portrait of the Pixação movement in São Paulo (IDFA Review)

burnsting burnsting Editor-in-chief It's hard to imagine a couple of guys with some spray paint making a mark on the world. But with their Pixação (graffiti tags) being covered by media worldwide, and now this film, I think these guys just did.

#IDFA Competition for First Appearance

Pixadores follows four friends (Djan, William, Ricardo and Biscoito) in the dark night, on the hunt for their next building to tag. But they don't just tag any building. They try to find the tallest and most difficult spots to tag, often risking a terrible fall and most likely their death.

Pixadores trailer - Pixação documentary

Why? It's an interesting question. And it's best answered by just watching these guys do their work in the beautifully filmed documentary. But I'd say they want to be heard, just like anybody else. Be someone, and make a statement.

Living in the slums of São Paulo, it's not like they can just go onto the street and protest with anybody caring. But when they see their Pixação on some of the tallest buildings around, they feel like they did something and people will take notice. I think we can all relate to that — these guys take "making a mark" just a little bit more literally than most of us.

The escapism they seek when placing their tags, can also be seen when the guys go surfing. Not on the beach, but on the outside of trains, closing their eyes while hanging from or standing on a train that's going over 60mph.

Surfing on train - Pixadores
Surfing on train - Pixadores

It creates an intriguing portrait of the guys behind the Pixação movement, not the movement itself. We follow them in their day to day lives. When they go tagging, but also when they hang around, have family issues or when one of them takes care of his young son.

During some of the most cinematic moments a voice-over explains why they go around painting buildings and surfing trains. It's a great way to show what these guys stand for. But one of the most telling moments in the film, is when the group is invited to the Berlin Biennale. They're asked to decorate a wall chosen by the organization, people who don't understand what these guys are all about. A symbolic clash ensues between the organization and the Pixadores. And for a moment, the black-and-white film shows color...

Overall Pixadores is a powerful and well-crafted picture that has more depth and leaves a bigger impression than you would initially think. But that's more because of the direction of this film, than the movement it follows.


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burnsting burnsting Editor-in-chief

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