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C²DH historian Dominique Santana and film producer Bernard Michaux (Samsa Film) spoke to Hanna Siemaszko, the producer of the SciLux podcast on science in Luxembourg, about their experiences of the “A Colônia Luxemburguesa” project, from the initial idea to the inauguration of the transmedia documentary.

An oddly familiar tropical version of the south of Luxembourg in Brazil

While searching for her own identity, Luxembourg-Brazilian historian Dominique Santana made a decisive discovery as she came across João Monlevade, a remarkable and oddly familiar tropical version of the south of Luxembourg where she grew up. To breathe new life into this fascinating story, Dominique decided to make it the topic of her PhDWorking closely with Bernard Michaux, film producer at Samsa Film, she imagined an innovative 360° transmedia project combining a website www.colonia.luan interactive documentary, interactive maps and character profiles, an online crowdsourcing platform and a collaborative archive collection with two physical and fully participatory interconnected platforms, which she named [L]AÇO kiosks, located in Luxembourg and in Brazil. The project uses digital technology to democratise history by bringing it closer to the public, inspiring intercultural dialogue and critical thinking. It empowers societies by inviting them to become active participants in this historical investigation. 

"A Colônia Luxemburguesa" is a collaboration between the C2DH, Samsa Film and the Centre national de l’audiovisuel (CNA) with the support of the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), the Film Fund Luxembourg,  Esch2022 European Capital of Culture, the Fondation Emile Metz-Tesch and the Rotary Club Esch-Bassin Minier. 

Reviving transatlantic steel ties

[L]aço is a physical and participatory pavilion that tells the story of the Colônia and invites visitors to participate in this story. After the inauguration of the Brazilian [L]aço, the Grand Duke was able to inaugurate the Luxembourg [L]aço this Friday, 4 March 2022 by connecting directly with representatives of the Colônia Luxemburguesa through the digital telephone booth "Orelhão". The portmanteau word [L]aço (laço=link; aço=steel) literally means links of steel. Its main objective is to revive the transatlantic steel ties woven over a century between the communities. 

Making of ...

"A Colônia Luxemburguesa" - Making of master (sub FR) - 27/06/2022 from Samsa Film on Vimeo.

Awards  "A Colônia Luxemburguesa" 

  • Christine Whittaker Prize from the International Association for Media and History (IAMHIST), 2023
  • Finalist of the Numix Prize 2023, Montreal
  • Finalist of the FIAT/IFTA Awards 2023, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Best I-Doc - FINNOF 2023 (Argentina)

Official selection to international film festivals: 

  • Luxembourg City Film Festival 2022 & VR Pavilion 2023
  • Sunny Side of the Doc, PiXii Festival, La Rochelle (France) / June 2022
  • Open City Documentary Festival London (UK) / September 2022
  • Sheffield International Documentary Festival, 2023
  • Montreal International History Film Festival (FIFHM)  / May 2022 ** Awarded "Special Mention"
  • Frankfurt Film Festival (Germany) / February 2022 ** Awarded "Best experimental"
  • AVANCA - International Meeting of Cinema, TV, Video & Multimedia (Portugal) / July 2022 ** Awarded "Special Mention"
  • Inernational Festival of New Nonfiction Narratives (Argentina), 2023 ** Awarded "Best I-DOC"
  • Brussels Independent Film Festival, 2023
  • Doc.Sydney Documentary Film Festival (Australia), 2023
  • Titan International Film Festival, 2022
  • IZDOC, Izmir International Documentary Festival, 2023
  • Festival du Cinéma Portugais, Luxembourg, 2022
  • Numix Lab, 2022

The impact of the project has also reached political dimensions. On 1 July 2022, the cities of Esch-sur-Alzette and João Monlevade officially became sister cities. On this occasion, Dominique Santana was given the title of "Honorary Citizen of João Monlevade".

Media coverage (selection)

  • «Reconstruire les liens du passé pour tisser ceux du futur» - LE QUOTIDIEN, 14 Feb. 2023 
  • Atmosphärisches Rauschen, Sambaklänge und ein rauchender Schlot - FORUM, 1 Aug. 2022 
  • Wie die Stahlindustrie Esch mit Brasilien verbindet - LUXEMBURGER WORT, 22 Jul. 2022
  • Legado histórico de João Monlevade é discutido no "História e Café" - REDAÇAO 5 May 2022
  • Dominique Santana • Réalisatrice de A colônia luxemburguesa - Cineuropa, 30 Mar. 2022 
  • Minettsdäpp in Brasilien - WOXX, 18 Mar. 2022 
  • Transmediales Projekt: Minettsdäpp in Brasilien - WOXX, 16 Mar. 2022 
  • Dominique Santana - RTL No Art on Air, 13 Mar. 2022
  • Documentary Exploring Luxembourgish Migration to Brazil Released -, 9 Mar. 2022 
  • Brasil e Luxemburgo unidos pelo [L]aço - BOM DIA FEIRA, 8 Mar 2022
  • Arte de Luxemburgo: festival mostra fotos, pintura e filme do país europeu - Estado de Minas, 6 Mar. 2022 
  • Gemeinderat Esch / Städtepartnerschaften: João Monlevade vor Augen, Liverpool und Gubbio im Sinn - TAGEBLATT, 5 Mar. 2022 
  • Festa luxemburguesa une história, artes e tradição em Minas Gerais - O Tempo,  3 Mar. 2022 
  • Festival explora relação de Minas e Luxemburgo - Diário do Comercio, 3 Mar 2022 
  • Descobertas culturais marcam primeira edição do Festival Brasil-Luxemburgo - Revista Museu, 3 Mar. 2022 
  • Festival Brasil Luxemburgo até 09/03 - Agendabh, 2 Mar. 2022
  • Im brasilianischen Luxemburg - Luxemburger Wort, 2 Mar. 2022
  • 1ª edição do Festival Brasil-Luxemburgo - Belo Horizonte Surpreendente, 26 Feb. 2022 
  • Lançamentos de edital para artistas de Minas e do Documentário interativo "A Colônia Luxemburguesa" são destaque do Festival Brasil-Luxemburgo - Jornal MG Turismo, 17 Feb. 2022
  • Stählerne Tropen REVUE, 16 Jun. 2021
  • Bistrot Interview project "A Cõlonia Luxemburguesa" - RADIO ARA, 31 Mar. 2021
  • / Schmelztiegel im brasilianischen Regenwald: Dominique Santana sucht Quellen zur Luxemburger Migrationsbewegung - TAGEBLATT, 30 Mar. 2021