The coup d’état of democracy by fake news explored by fiery Brazilian speakers
The Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge, which hosts Cambridge’s contribution to The Week of Fake News on May 24, can expect some hard-hitting Brazilian commentary about the dangers affecting weakened democracies such as the UK when Victor Fraga makes his contribution.
The Brazilian firebrand, an enfant terrible of film and political discourse, is the director of the movie The Coup d’Etat Factory, an Anglo-Brazilian documentary about media bias, fake news and democracy.
The film will be receiving its UK premiere during The Week of Fake News, a one-off initiative encompassing cinema, music, academic debate and fine arts. Its objective is to investigate how fake news and media bias have impacted the democratic institutions and the election process in Brazil, drawing pertinent parallels to the UK and the rest of the world.
The event will take place at venues in London, Cambridge and Oxford between May 24 and May 29. Audiences will learn about the nefarious tactics that reactionary forces have utilised to spread disinformation, including staging parliamentary coups (the prorogation of Parliament in the UK), conducting extensive lawfare campaigns against individuals, creating a “culture of hate” and subverting election results.
Key guests and speakers are intellectuals, artists and politicians from Brazil and the UK including Jean Wyllys, Márcia Tiburi, Wagner Schwartz, Débora Diniz, Jeremy Corbyn and Baroness Christine Blower.
The Coup d’Etat Factory, investigates “how Brazilian mainstream media and fake news create leaders and destroy democracy”.
Archive footage and reportage are combined with extensive interviews, which include the former president of Brazil [Lula], Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winners, human rights lawyers and musicians.
Victor is a Brazilian born and London-based writer and film journalist. Speaking to the Cambridge Independent, he said that the motive for his involvement in The Week of Fake News is to raise awareness of the importance of the Brazilian election in October. The first round of the vote is scheduled for October 2, with a potential run-off (in case no candidate has more than 50 per cent of the votes) on October 30.
“Bolsonaro won the last election, in 2018,” he said, “and we want to make sure that fake news and hate do not win the election this time.
“We want to break the cycle, and make sure he is not re-elected. It’s an important election and there are repercussions for everyone else.
“It’s the first-ever Fake News Week and in a way I hope it’s going to be the last one. For the next one, in four years time, we don’t want to be saying ‘We made the same mistake in 2022’. We are very optimistic we are going to get him out of office, possibly in the first round. All the polls say that Lula [opposition leader] will win by a landslide.” [Note: At the time of going to press Lula’s lead had been reduced to 14 points.]
Victor continues: “He tried to stage a fake coup [in September 2021] and it’s failed, and since then he’s lost a lot of political power.
“I don’t think he stands a chance of winning but he will try everything he can to stay in power. But he doesn’t have many political allies, so he is weak.”
The Cambridge events are hosted by the Cambridge University Brazilian Society (CUBS), the Cambridge Latin American Research in Education Collective (CLAREC) and DMovies (which is run by Victor). The schedule has been organised by Anna Maria Del Fiorentino and Alexandre da Trindade, two Brazilians doing their PhDs in education at the University of Cambridge.
Anna has been in Cambridge since 2019, has now finished her MPhil in Latin American studies – “on gender equality and social mobility in Brazil” – and starts her PhD in education in October. Alexandre is in the third year of a PhD, also in education – “it’s more about how committees and social movements are related, and how universities connect to these groups”. Alexandre was instrumental, as part of CLAREC (the Cambridge Latin American Research in Education Collective) in the installation of a statue of Brazilian educator Paolo Freire in the Faculty of Education, as reported in the Cambridge Independent in December last year.
Three events have been organised for May 24.
4-6pm: An introduction to the documentary The Coup d’État Factory by director Victor Fraga, followed by a screening of the film at the Mary Allan building (Homerton college)
6-7pm: A book signing by guests and authors Jean Wyllys and Márcia Tiburi, with refreshments, at Rooms GS4/GS5 (Faculty of Education)
7-9pm: “The main event”, says Alexandre. After a welcome by Prof Susan Robertson, chair in Sociology of Education at the Faculty of Education, the three guests – Márcia Tiburi, Jean Wyllys and Victor Fraga – give a presentation about fake news and how their work relates to it. At 8pm a debate will be led by Haira Gandolfi, a lecturer at the Faculty of Education, followed by a Q&A.
Find out more here.