In 2009, I volunteered at the Querô Institute in Brazil – a UNICEF-supported non-profit that provides social inclusion to teenagers from low-income communities through the transformative power of filmmaking. The dedication of these young people to make a better life for themselves despite their unequal social status astounded me and inspired me to make films about people from underrepresented cultures and communities. Socrates is a film that revisits the people and places that helped shape me into the filmmaker I am today. The film is also very personal in its depiction of the death of Socrates's mother, his struggle with grief, and his efforts to find acceptance as a gay teenager. The result is a film that is embedded in a unique time and place in Brazil but that also tells a universal story about the strength to live despite insurmountable hardship.
Socrates was produced by a crew of 16-20-year-olds from the Querô Institute, a UNICEF-supported project that provides social inclusion through filmmaking to underprivileged youths in the Baixada Santista region of São Paulo, Brazil. Produced by Ramin Bahrani (99 HOMES) and filmed with a micro budget of under twenty thousand dollars, Socrates is the debut feature film from 29-year-old Brazilian-American director Alex Moratto.
The Querô Institute is an organization headquartered in the city of Santos, Brazil, that for over 12 years has used filmmaking as a tool to transmit values, develop entrepreneurship, promote volunteer work, and give access to the workplace for young people in situations of social vulnerability.
The social impact of the Institute is to transform young people to reflect more on their role in society, making them better equipped to cope with problems and become the entrepreneurs of their own dreams.
At the Querô Workshops, more than 400 boys and girls have been trained in audiovisual production, with 150 graduates currently working professionally in the Brazilian Film Industry. In its 12 years, over 111 audiovisual works have been completed, winning over 55 awards in Brazilian and International Film Festivals. At the Querô at School project, over 6,000 students from the public school system have been served, having produced 182 one-minute short films.
Learn more about the Querô Institute: www.institutoquero.org