The Territory of Play is a project dedicated to listening, exchanging knowledge, documenting, and disseminating the culture of childhood.
The documentary filmmakers Renata Meirelles and David Reeks travelled with their children across Brazil from April 2012 through December 2013. They visited rural, indigenous, and maroon communities, travelled through large cities, the remote interior and the coast, showing us the country through the eyes of our children. Renata and David documented the subtle spontaneity of play, through which children present themselves.
Every meeting produced an intense dialog and interplay through gestures, expressions, and sayings, all carefully documented in films, photographs, texts, and audio. An exchange in which researchers and children came together through doing and playing, constantly learning from each other.
The Territory of Play’s work extends even further through its partnership with the Alana Institute, a co-producer of the project, with schools that believe in the value of this research and have partnered with us, with the support of Aliança pela Infância (Childhood Alliance), and other individuals and organizations that greatly enrich our story.
We are currently producing a feature-length documentary, two books, and two children’s series for television. In addition to this, a traveling exhibit is touring Brazil, taking a small piece of The Territory to schools, festivals, parks, etc.
Expanding its research, The Territory of Play team will continue their journey to more distant lands, beyond our national borders, and will keep producing material that bring our childhoods to schools, institutions, and families.
Ever since the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” arose, the educator and documentary filmmaker Renata Meirelles has expressed her wish to be close to children. The path she found was through play.
Renata has been living this interaction with children of the most diverse regions of Brazil since 1996, in an intense exchange of toys and games.
In 2000, she met David Reeks and together they founded the BIRA Project – Childhood Games of the Amazon Region. In 2001, they set off for the Amazon and visited 16 indigenous and riverside communities in the states of Amapá, Pará, Amazonas, Roraima and Acre.
Using the documentation from BIRA, they produced several award-winning short films. They also published the book Giramundo, winner of the Prêmio Jabuti, the most traditional literary award in Brazil, and gave countless presentations, talks and workshops at schools, institutions and companies in Brazil and abroad.
They continued researching and pursuing projects about childhood while developing important partnerships. Among them is the journalist Gabriela Romeu, leading to the production of the Projeto Mapa do Brincar (Map of Play Project), an initiative by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that won the Grande Premio Ayrton Senna de Jornalismo award. Gabriela and Renata curated the Trilhas do Brincar (Trails of Play) exhibit, which has toured the SESC units, and the three made the film Disque Quilombola, winner of awards at Fici (International Children’s Film Festival) and at Mostra de Cinema Infantil de Florianópolis (Florianópolis Children’s Film Festival), among other festivals.
Renata Meirelles, in partnership with researcher Ghandy Piorsky, curated the exhibit Mais de Mil Brinquedos da Criança Brasileira (Over a Thousand Toys of the Brazilian Child) at the SESC Pompéia unit in São Paulo.
Part of this material, which has been collected since 1996, is gathered on this website. To us this space represents a chance to access the endless potential and beauty of our children. Welcome, and enjoy!