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Hey DJ

Hey DJ (photo)

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Wesley Pentz is better known as Diplo. And he’s better known as a DJ who’s worked with M.I.A., who co-wrote “Paper Planes,” who’s toured with Justice and who brought baile funk to the mainstream masses with a series of nasty-good party-making mixes. But with “Favela on Blast,” which had its premiere at SXSW last month, Diplo’s now also a filmmaker, collaborating with Brazilian co-director Leandro HBL on a documentary about the world from which baile funk comes. “Favela on Blast” goes deep into the teeming slums of Rio de Janeiro, whirling through interviews with producers and DJs to street-level party footage to dance numbers, a pulsating document of both life in the marginalized economic sidelines and of a vibrant and unique music scene.

Where’d “Favela on Blast” start?

The idea [was] for it to be another bootleg street DVD, really simple — it just became a big project. I got into it because I was traveling to Brazil as a DJ and I was into the music that was playing. This scene was really interesting because there had been no documentation of it. It was strictly ghetto. Even in Brazil, people from other cities besides Rio didn’t know what was going on. You see films like “City of God,” favela films, but you never see this — this is what’s happening now. No one was profiling it, but there was such a romance about the favela… There was a film back in the day called “Style Wars,” it was a documentary about hip-hop. Have you seen it?

I haven’t, but I’ve heard about it, sure.

Henry Chalfant did it, he’s a subway photographer. He wasn’t a hip-hop guy, but he just loved the subculture, so he created a documentary. It’s kind of a bible — a lot of kids are like, I love rap and hip-hop, and to figure out the roots, you watch that movie. I wanted to make something like that about funk music.

And what was was your involvement in this film?

The film started as a video clip I did for one of my songs, we shot on 16mm in the favelas on the rooftops, just dancing scenes. It was amazing. It was super easy. We did it in a weekend. I was like, shit, we can do this, we can make a whole movie in two weekends. [laughs]

04152009_favelaonblast2.jpgMy partner Leandro was working in the film industry [in Brazil], and he was my direct relationship there. I’d gone down a year before the film started just to hang out with the people, so I had strong connections there. You don’t just go to the favelas and shoot. My first day off the airplane, I hooked up with the biggest DJ because we were with The Fader magazine and he’s like “You want to see funk? Come with me.” We went to this radio show, ended up in like 20 favelas, guns, drugs everywhere — I’m like, what am I doing here? I was 24, it was my first trip after college, I’d quit my job as a school teacher to try and do some shit with my life and make music. There were a lot of weird moments in the three years [we spent making the film]. Some of our main characters died. People go missing. We had a party where we had to actually pay the police to not bother us and pay the gangsters to not show up.

Once I started the film, I just kept pouring a little bit of my money into it. I had a show in Shanghai, so I went and bought the Sony Z1UK on the black market for $2000. I’m not a filmmaker, so I didn’t have time allotted. I didn’t know what a schedule is like. I didn’t know that we had to keep rewriting a screenplay for a documentary. I thought we just go with cameras and woo, we got a film. We ended up with 100 hours of shit we had to watch. [laughs] We spent a year editing it. We finished around October properly, and I went down to Brazil to do the sound mix.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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