Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) in Education City is hosting the screenings of two award-winning documentaries made by its faculty and students, and which deal with the themes of sustainability and the lives of residents of one of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro.

The screenings will be held this Tuesday, 21 January, 6pm, at the Atrium of VCUarts Qatar. All are welcome to attend. The screenings will be followed by a panel discussion with filmmakers and with Qatari cinematographer and founder of Celeritas Studios, Yasser Al Naemi. It will be moderated by Northwestern University in Qatar (NUQ) Professor Scott Curtis.

The screenings will also include the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between VCUarts Qatar and Doha Film Institute that will allow the two institutions to engage in different forms of collaboration.

Documentaries on Bamboos and Favelas

‘Bamboo – The Tradition of the Future’, by Interior Design Associate Professor Dr Johan Granberg, is a short film that looks at bamboo as both a building material and as an art material. The concept of using the traditional building material as a modern building material, and the answers it may hold for the issue of sustainability, are central to the documentary.

It opens the conversation about bamboo’s potential to play a greater role in a sustainable society – and for architects, engineers and artists the question remains why bamboo is not more frequently used. The film underlies the urgency to collect more data about the under utilised resource.

The documentary has won several awards, including the Best Documentary Short Film award at the South Film and Arts Academy Festival (SFAAF) in Chile; the Best Documentary Gold award at the Virgin Spring Cinefest in Kolkata, India; the Best Cinematography award at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Film Festival in Pune, India; and was a semifinalist at both the European Cinematography Awards in Amsterdam, Holland; and at the New York Cinematography Awards in the US.

Favela VCUarts Qatar

The second documentary film, ‘Living in the Above: Tavares Bastos Favela‘, by Granberg and Liberal Arts and Sciences Assistant Professor Dr Byrad Yyelland, is an ethno-architectural portrait of life in a small neighbourhood in Brazil.

Yyelland and Granberg conducted research on social interactions, identity development and community-building for over five years on Tavares Bastos, a small informal settlement (favela) located above the Catete area of Rio de Janeiro, in respect with the juxtaposition and negotiation between nature and architectural design, while leading a team of international filmmakers that included students and staff from NUQ.

‘Living in the Above: Tavares Bastos Favela’ received the Golden Film award from the International Institute for Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics (IIAS). Greg Andonian from the IIAS said that the film portrays Favela life worth living to its fullest, within the individual means, when one indeed loves living in a secure and trustful social micro environment, in harmony with nature, with thrilling panoramic views of the city projecting onto the ocean.

The documentaries were funded through the VCUarts Qatar faculty research grants.

VCUarts Qatar is currently open for applications for September 2020. Applications close on 1 February. The Admissions team is conducting portfolio reviews and meeting with prospective students. To arrange for a meeting, you can send an email to [email protected]. Visit for more information. 

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