Movie teaches inclusion

Award-winning production featuring actors with Down Syndrome receives a special showing at the UN

By the Editorial Staff

Wednesday | October 16, 2013 | 2:11 PM | Last update: September 22, 2016, 4:07 PM (Brasilia time)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 5% of the population of any country has some type of intellectual disability. Among the most familiar is Down Syndrome. In Brazil there are nearly 300,000 people with the syndrome, according to the Brazilian Federation of Associations of Down Syndrome. Many of them work, study, date, and lead a full social life. Such is the case of actors Ariel Goldenberg, Rita Pook, and Breno Viola, the protagonists of the movie Colegas, [Buddies] by screenwriter and director Marcelo Galvão.

Learn more about the subject in the article “Down Syndrome” by journalist Paiva Netto 

In July 2013, a special screening of the movie “Buddies” occurred during the 6th Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the UN headquarters in New York. Organized by UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Fund) and by the Brazilian Mission to the United Nations, the event brought together, from 17 to 19 July, official delegations and civil society representatives. 

Every year, the countries that ratified the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities participate in this meeting. 


Vivian R. Ferreira
Director Marcelo Galvão

In an interview given to the program Sociedade Solidária* on Boa Vontade TV (channel 20 on SKY cable TV), the filmmaker talked about the experience of directing young actors with Down. “I wrote a movie that doesn’t talk about the disability Down Syndrome, but about dreams. Everybody dreams. Everybody wants to pursue their dreams. So this is both an inspiring movie and a comedy. It’s a movie that’s uplifting,” he said. Galvão remembers that the idea for the movie came up because of an uncle of his who has this syndrome. “I spent a large part of my childhood with him and they were magic moments for me. (...) He had a huge heart. He was a funny guy and he believed that everything was possible. So this positive attitude, this uplifting attitude, was what I wanted to give to the movie.

“Buddies” tells the story of Stallone, Aninha, and Márcio—played by Ariel, Rita, and Breno—, three great friends who live together in an institute for people with Down Syndrome. One day, inspired by the movies they had seen in the video library of the place where they lived, especially Thelma & Louise (1991), they decide to run away so that each one can fulfill their dream. So they steal the gardener’s (Lima Duarte) car and escape. The press and the police go after the threesome, who are determined to live great adventures in search of their own dreams.

For the director, the first five minutes of this film show that it is possible to make good movies while having actors who are kids with this syndrome or any other disability. “You forget they have Down Syndrome. You get into the adventure, cheer, cry, and laugh with them, but with them as actors, as movie characters, not as three kids with Down Syndrome.”

“Buddies” tells the story of Stallone, Aninha, and Márcio—played by Ariel, Rita, and Breno

Director Marcelo Galvão is already planning his new work, which he is going to call “Cadeirantes” [Portuguese for people in wheelchairs]: “A movie that’s three times bigger than ‘Buddies’. A project totally about social inclusion. For discussion, the producer imagined a city full of people in wheelchairs, where all the local inhabitants go around in wheelchairs and only one can walk. This person is the “disabled” one in that place. He suffers prejudice and other types of discrimination. “It’s an inversion of the way we see society today.”