If you could break the rules... what would you do?

Rules can be anything; laws, ideological beliefs, religious convictions, long-held customs, cultural mores, systemic practices, institutional policies, and even international human rights.

As part of a summer class in human rights and media, a group of students from the Graduate Program of International Affairs at The New School in New York traveled to Rio de Janeiro to work on film projects. Several university students from the Center for the Study of Human Rights at PUC-Rio joined us and together we hit the streets with ideas.

One was called The Rules. Given the political storm in Brazil that was brewing in 2015, we decided to ask a conceptual open-ended question: If you could break the rules, what would you do?

We thought about variations, if you could make the rules, or change the rules, what would you do? But in the end we stayed with the theme of breaking rules because the political and social crisis in Brazil demanded something more radical.

We also decided to play down questions about human rights in order to elicit more popular responses. Although quietly we hoped the film would spark a collective debate about changing the kind of rules that are made by the powerful few at the expense of the many.

With these ideas in mind, we asked people from all walks of life in Rio to pause, look at the camera and answer our question. We hope their responses are a starting point for more discussion about rules and rights and about how to simply listen to people’s ideas.