A short documentary about joy, unity, and empowerment through drumming
A film by Sarah Teale + Carin van der Donk
In 2016 Stacy Kovacs formed Fogo Azul, an all-woman and non-binary samba reggae drumming band, with just fifteen drummers. By 2020 they had a hundred and ten members and they formed a powerful and loud leadership at the resistance marches, including the Dyke March, the Women’s March and the Pride Marches, and to causes such as BLM and Pro-Abortion protests.
In February, 2020 forty-four members of Fogo Azul traveled with Stacy to Salvador, Brazil to learn more techniques from Banda Dida, the first all-black, all female samba reggae drumming group, run by the pioneer Adriana Portela.
Our short documentary profiles a few of the women who form Fogo Azul and Banda Dida as the American women arrive in Salvador to learn from the women of Dida and get ready to play at Carnival.
Adriana then comes to New York to rehearse with Fogo Azul and to lead them in the Mermaid Parade on Coney Island.
Our film explores the power of music, and drumming in particular, to transform lives and to empower women in both Brazil and the United States.
Meet the Drummers
Meet the Team
Sarah Teale (Producer /Director) was a Producer/Director of Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections which aired on HBO on March 26th, 2020 and was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Documentary in 2021. She was a Producer on the HBO series The Weight of the Nation, which was nominated for a Prime Time Emmy. Other HBO films she produced and directed include Dealing Dogs, (Emmy nomination Outstanding Investigative Documentary); Hacking Democracy, (Emmy nomination Outstanding Investigative Documentary); Death on a Factory Farm; Bellevue: Inside Out, a year inside the locked psychiatric wards at Bellevue Hospital; and Mumia Abu Jamal: A Case For Reasonable Doubt?, Cable Ace Award nomination. She has also produced and directed documentaries for the BBC, A&E and Discovery. She most recently produced and directed Grazers: A Cooperative Story with Lisa F. Jackson, being distributed by Collective Eye and Passion River and Patrimonio, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and Full Frame and is being distributed by First Run Features.
Carin van der Donk
Carin van der Donk is a Dutch photographer and camerawoman, based in NYC. At 15 she became an international fashion model, working with photographers like Richard Scavullo, Kurt Markus, and Jean Loup Sieff. After settling in New York City, she became an assistant-producer for Art + Commerce, working with photographers Ellen von Unwerth, Frank W. Ockenfels III, and Mary Ellen Mark, followed by becoming an agent and producer at Julian Meijer et Associes. Her photographs are used by political organizations, including Sister District, Future Now, Housing Justice for All, NoIDC, and Councilmember Carlina Rivera. She contributed stills to the HBO documentaries The Sentence (2018), and Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections (2020). A solo exhibition of her photography was held at the St. George Church, NYC in 2018. Her portraits of Vincent D’Onofrio appear in Mutha, a book of the actor’s poetry (Cameron Books 2021). She is co-producing a documentary about Fogo Azul, an all women, transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming Samba Reggae drum line (she is a band member herself). She is a 2021 graduate of the International Center of Photography program in Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism.
Isabel Vega is an award-winning filmmaker with a solid background as director/ producer/shooter and storyteller. Isabel has worked on film and TV projects for HBO, Bravo, Lifetime, Own, Oxygen, TLC and FX. Her film, LA CORONA, is a documentary about a beauty pageant in a high security female prison in Bogotá, Colombia. The film was nomi- nated for an Academy Award (2008), received an Honorable mention at Sundance (2008), won the IDA Award for best short film (2008) and was acquired by HBO.
Vega co-produced two episodes of Morgan Spurlock’s series, 30 DAYS (FX) and was an associate producer on THIN, (which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006). In 2005 she worked with Maryann De Leo on her documentary about domestic violence, TERROR AT HOME. Vega’s latest film (currently in production) is about a local election in Jackson, MS.