The film Body Games documents combat games, dances and musical instruments in Southern Angola and explores possible links with Afro-Brazilian traditions, in particular capoeira. The film had its world premiere at the Zanzibar International Film Festival in Tanzania, in June 2014. The DVD was released in June 2014.
The documentary film is now available on Vimeo on Demand with English, Portuguese, French and Spanish subtitles. The funds raised through Vimeo on Demand will go to the engolo practitioners in Angola that participated in the making of the film.
BODY GAMES. CAPOEIRA AND ANCESTRY tells a story driven by Mestre Cobra Mansa’s need to understand the ancestry of his art form, Capoeira, as part of a wider concern with his Afro-Brazilian heritage. By playing capoeira and engaging with Capoeira masters from Rio and Bahia, Cobra takes us into a world of Africa in Brazil. It is the world of Capoeira, where players kick, spin and dodge to songs that evoke African ancestors, the world of the enslaved and their masters and a mythical place called “Angola”.
In the real Angola Cobra Mansa follows the traces of a powerful Brazilian myth about Capoeira’s African origins. This myth links Capoeira to a legendary Angolan game called Engolo – the Zebra dance. His search takes him and his friends to remote villages in southern Angola where Engolo players teach him “the art of bending with the wind” and tell him how some of them are being possessed by their ancestors whilst performing Engolo. They are introduced to different combat games, acrobatic dances and the trance-like music of Angolan musical bows, which all display some kind of affinity with Brazilian capoeira. Through an exchange of Capoeira and native art forms in the dusty villages of Angola, Cobra and his team begin to understand the similarities and differences between combat games played on both sides of the Atlantic.