U.K. director-screenwriter Richard Curtis, digital sensation Porta dos Fundos and multi-platform production pioneers Los Bragas are teaming in Brazil on a new approach to global change, as part of one of the most ambitious communication campaign in history.
On Sept. 25, 193 world leaders will commit to 17 United Nations Global Goals. These aim to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change for everyone by 2030.
But if the U.N. wants to change the world, strategies for implementing that change are changing too. And Brazil, where the strategy is both glocal and digital, is a very good case in point.
The goals, if met, ensure the health, safety and future of the planet for everyone on it. And their best chance of being met is if everyone on the planet is aware of them. So, in an out-of-the box move, Curtis has founded Project Everyone whose “simple but mighty ambition,” as he puts it, is to share the global goals with seven billion people in seven days this September.
“Our catchphrase is: ‘You can’t fight for your rights if you don’t know what they are,’” Curtis told Variety.
Some Global Goals initiatives are classic top-down: Pearl Jam, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay are set to perform at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park on Sept. 26 which will be televised around the world; Colbert, Salma Hayek Pinault, Deborah Lee and Hugh Jackman, Kerry Washington and Olivia Wilde will host the concert.
In Dizzy Goals, soccer stars past and present, plus other sportsmen – Gareth Bale, Garry Linekar, Usain Bolt –put their fingers on a ball, spin it 13 times, then attempt to score a soccer goal from the penalty spot six yards out. It’s very silly, fun, memorable and most often impossible.
“Unlike U.N. campaigns in the past, however, far larger autonomy is being given for local storytellers and producers to communicate the campaign in their own ways,” said Felipe Braga at Los Bragas, Project Everyone’s local content producer in Brazil.
“Somehow you have to understand how to reach people who are not reachable anymore and especially young people who don’t have television sets and have different consuming habits. Richard [Curtis] was very clever to think about having local partners and giving autonomy to all of them.” Braga added.
In Brazil, Project Everyone has gone for the digital jugular. Brought onto the Project, Los Bragas persuaded Portas dos Fundos, another Brazilian digital domain pacesetters, to come in at the Global Goals from a different angle.
Founded by actress Alice Braga (“Elysium,” “I Am Legend,” “City of God”), screenwriter-director Felipe Braga (“Trash,” “Latitudes”), and producer Rita Moraes, Los Bragas produced “Latitudes,” a pioneering TV, Internet and feature film production seen at SXSW, then “A Vida Fora dos Campos,” an intimate web/TV portrait of Brazilian soccer player Neymar da Silva Santos Jr, again seen in Austin.
A Brazilian satirical comedy troupe which releases three sketches a week, on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, Porta dos Fundos’ YouTube channel is the fifth most-watched in the world with 10.1 million subscribers and, over the space of just three years, 1.7 billion accumulated views.
Few entertainers, or famous people of any ilk, have the credibility of Porta dos Fundos, which has re-written Brazil’s comedy agenda. “Brazil’s free-to-air broadcasters don’t talk about certain issues or use certain words, but we can. And we realized Brazilians wanted to talk about important issues, Brazilian politicians, for example,” Porchat said.
Curtis said Portas recalled “Not the Nine O’Clock News,” “but is better.”
For Project Everyone, Los Bragas developed a co-production with Porta dos Fundos, to create three original Porta dos Fundos sketches, which will be launched on Porta’s YouTube channel Sept. 28, Oct 1 and Oct. 2. Written by actor-comedian Fabio Porchat, the troupe’s biggest star, the web-shorts relate to the U.N’s Global Goals, turning on gender equality, corruption and racism and social difference.
“Brazil suffers all the problems outlined in the United Nations Global Goals. But these have the most impact here. Also, they could yield the funniest ideas,” Porchat told Variety.
“The most important thing about humor is that you can reach more people: People laugh and they say: ‘Wow, that true.’ And to understand a joke, you have to know something about the subject.”
One sketch, turning on sexism, is set in the Supreme Court, another, skewering Brazilian’s racism, in a high school, Porchat hinted. Maybe two minutes long, the sketches will be aired followed by a brief explanation linking them to the U.N.’s Global Goals drive, he added.
“In brief, the biggest U.N. campaign ever is being communicated in Brazil online, on YouTube, through the most ironical, corrosive, and controversial comedians in the country,” Braga enthused.
“In Brazil, Millennials are taking over on how we communicate the U.N’s urge to change the world.” “Porta dos Fundos’ sketches are “the first U.N. campaign that was about millennials and made by millennials because these are the people who will change the world in the next fifteen years.”
“There’s an impatient generation which feel strongly about things. There’s also an alternative narrative. If you say: ‘What’s happened since 2000, you think terrorism, extremism, violence,” Curtis said.
“But if you’re Bill Gates you might say it’s the best years: Child mortality has been reduced, two billion people have clean water, many children have schools. The issue of equality of women is on everyone’s minds,” he added.
“I think one of our reasons is to say to young people: ‘Don’t feel powerless, actually believe there’s a plan and that things will get better.”