Rowena Baines is a New Zealand documentary filmmaker and director with a particular interest in Brazilian culture.
Rowena Baines is a New Zealand filmmaker and director. She produces independent documentaries and brand stories for individual clients, through her business Rowena Baines Film & Photography.
Rowena uses film as a catalyst for social change. She has made five short films, which have all been screened at international film festivals. Three of Rowena’s films were set in Latin America. Favela Beat was first released in 2013 as a 30-minute documentary on the history of samba and its positive effects on communities in Rio de Janeiro. Set in in the favela (shantytown) of Cantagalo, the film aims to change people's negative perceptions of a favela and show how talented its residents are. The film tells the story of an Afro-Brazilian family's commitment to preserve the samba tradition in their favela community, and use samba music and dance to connect with at-risk youth and encourage them to take an alternative path to drug-trafficking. Rowena is currently recutting Favela Beat as a full-length feature film.
Malandro, also released in 2013, is a playful look at the charms and faults of the “malandro”, which is an iconic samba figure. A malandro is a womanising hustler whose spirit lives on. Although modern women are wise to his ways, his charm still proves irresistible. Malandro was part of the official selection of the Reel Brazil International Film Festival in 2014.
In 2014, Rowena released The Contract, which is a documentary about an unusual arrangement between an elderly woman and her much younger samba teacher. The “contract” between the two gives the older woman a new lease of life and shows you are only as old as the man you dance with.
Favela Beat, Malandro and The Contract were all filmed in Rio de Janeiro. Rowena also filmed a commercial for the Australian energy drink Espresso KICK in the city.
Published 02 November 2023